The Global Risks Report for 2020

The 15th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report comes as long-mounting, interconnected risks are being felt.
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The global economy is faced with a “synchronized slowdown”, the past five years have been the warmest on record, and cyberattacks are expected to increase this year – all while citizens protest the political and economic conditions in their countries and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality. Indeed, the growing palpability of shared economic, environmental and societal risks signals that the horizon has shortened for preventing – or even mitigating – some of the direst consequences of global risks. It is sobering that in the face of this development, when the challenges before us demand immediate collective action, fractures within the global community appear to only be widening.

Global commerce has historically been a pillar and engine of growth – and a key tool for lifting economies out of downturns – but as we warn, significant restrictions were placed on global trade last year. This comes as G20 economies hold record high levels of debt and exhibit relatively low levels of growth. Ammunition to fight a potential recession is lacking, and there is a possibility of an extended low-growth period, akin to the 1970s, if lack of coordinated action continues. In addition, a potential decoupling of the world’s largest economies, the United States and China, is cause for further concern. The question for stakeholders – one that cannot be answered in the affirmative – is whether in the face of a prolonged global slowdown we are positioned in a way that will foster resiliency and prosperity.

On the environment, we note with grave concern the consequences of continued environmental degradation, including the record pace of species decline. Respondents to our Global Risks Perception Survey are also sounding the alarm, ranking climate change and related environmental issues as the top five risks in terms of likelihood—the first time in the survey’s history that one category has occupied all five of the top spots. But despite the need to be more ambitious when it comes to climate action, the UN has warned that countries have veered off course when it comes to meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

View the full 'The Global Risks Report of 2020' PDF