What crises could hit us in 2010?

March 2, 2010 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Ever wonder what those pointy-headed dudes talk about when they gather together for the World Economic Forum in Davos? At their annual gathering in January, they muttered the phrase “the long shadow of the financial crisis” and discussion focused on global risks in the wake of the GFC.

Their annual report – Global Risks 2010 – explores the risk landscape and points out that because our global economy is now so interconnected, shocks and vulnerabilities are truly global and the risk landscape is very, very crowded.

You can download the report here but I’ll give you a summary:

  • Economic and environmental risks are the areas where there has been a marked increase in the perception of interdependencies.
  • The report identifies fiscal crises, under-investment in infrastructure and chronic diseases as the major risks.
  • Runners up are the economic and social costs of transnational crime and corruption, biodiversity losses and risks to critical systems from cyber-vulnerability.

Probabilities were assigned to each of the risks and the linkages between them were mapped to produce the infographic below:

This is an interactive map and you can view the larger version here. Have a play with it; I’ll wait.

No doubt you saw for yourself the systemic nature of the global risk landscape. Many of these risks I’ve blogged about such as water scarcity and fiscal crises (especially sovereign debt). The size of the bubble on the map shows the likelihood of occurrence; the weight of the link shows the strength of interconnection; the weight of the bubble outline shows severity; and the chart on the left of the map shows you how the risk you’ve clicked on relates to other risks.

I was freaked out when I clicked on Biodiversity Loss – go ahead and do that on the map. You’ll see that 17 related threats emerge and may effect, for example, economic growth, migration of species, food price volatility and also result in depleted stocks in fishery and forestry. Obviously policy and strategy will need to be considered on both the global and local levels because each of these threats will have a cascading effect. If you want to know the full impact of biodiversity loss, you can read a full report here.

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