Global Risk Report 2021


The Global Risk Report 2021 has been released by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Zurich Insurance, Marsh McLennan and SK Holdings.

  • The report cautions the world against the next imminent dangers.
  • The risks were categorized as Economic, Environmental, Geopolitical, Societal and Technological.
  • Infectious diseases pose the biggest livelihood and economic threat as witnessed during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Global Risks Report, 2021 released virtually by WEF on January 19.

Top Ten Likely Global Risks in 2021, According to the WEF

  1. Extreme Weather: For the past five years, extreme weather conditions have been listed as the top global risk. Severe weather conditions like cold fronts, fires, floods, heatwaves, windstorms, etc., have been the reason for mass destruction across the world, impacting lives and economies.
  2. Climate Action Failure: Climate action failure ranks high in the global risks list, not just by likelihood but also by the impact. Climate action failure is defined by the failure by governments, corporations and businesses to take up active climate change mitigation measures and help protect ecosystems and livelihoods around the world.
  3. Human Environmental Damage: The third-largest threat is environmental damage caused by human activities. As the world progresses and commercialization spreads across the globe, man-made disasters have been beginning to be a massive threat to humanity.
  4. Infectious Diseases: As the world continues to battle the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has already claimed over 2 million lives, ‘infectious diseases’ continues to be a global risk. In fact, it ranks as the biggest risk by impact according to the WEF.
  5. Biodiversity Loss: The loss of biodiversity is another big threat to humanity. The report defined biodiversity loss as “irreversible consequences for the environment, humankind, and economic activity, and a permanent destruction of natural capital, as a result of species extinction and/or reduction.”
  6. Digital Power Concentration: It is the concentration of power with a restricted few in the world, especially when it comes to digital assets, which could lead to “unequal private or public access”.
  7. Digital Inequality: As the world continues to rely heavily on digital and technological growth, unequal or fractured access to digital networks because of “unequal investment capabilities, lack of necessary skills in the workforce, insufficient purchase power, government restrictions and/or cultural differences” is another risk to the world.
  8. Interstate Relations Fracture: The world in the future has to come together to face these risks, and thus, interstate relations fracture is another threat. Both interstate relations fracture and interstate conflict have been listed are the likely dangers.
  9. Cybersecurity Failure: As dependency on digital increases, one of the biggest threats is cybersecurity failure. The world has already been witnessing a growing number of cyber attacks, as companies across the world reported massive breaches in 2020.
  10. Livelihood Crisis: As markets and businesses continue to reel under the effects of the pandemic, unemployment, underemployment, lower wages, fragile contracts, erosion of worker rights were listed as the threats by the WEF.

Global Risk Horizon: Top Three Risk Scenarios

A. Clear and Present Dangers
Short-term (0 to 2 years) Risks
B.Knock-on Effects
Medium Term (3 to 5 years) Risks
C.Existential Threats
Long Term (5 to 10 years) Risks
  • Infectious diseases
  • Extreme Weather Events
  • Livelihood Diseases

  • IT Infrastructure Breakdown
  • Asset Bubble Burst
  • Price Instability

  • State Collapse
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Biodiversity losses