We're sorry but your browser is not supported by Marsh.com

For the best experience, please upgrade to a supported browser:



Takeaways from The Global Risks Report 2020


Now in its 15th year, the Global Risks Report — produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) with the support of Marsh & McLennan and other partners — offers valuable perspectives on major risks for businesses, governments, and other organizations globally. Derived from surveys and deeper explorations of a variety of threats — specific and broad, short- and long-term — its findings can help risk professionals and senior executives identify external threats and improve resilience to them.

The Global Risks Report 2020  highlights the greater sense of urgency felt by businesses and governments about a variety of global threats.

Spotlight on Climate Change

For the first time in the WEF survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental. In 2020, societies will need to accelerate their transition to low-carbon economies while simultaneously improving preparedness and adapting to ongoing climate impacts. Both of these imperatives could create new challenges and questions.

The Perils of Evolving Technology

Systemic risks arising from new technologies require effective technology governance at all levels. These risks include the erosion of social discourse, threats to economic stability, the exacerbation of geostrategic competition, and pressures on national and international security. And cyber-attacks remain the top risk concern among business leaders in advanced economies, with attack surfaces seemingly expanding every day.

Persistent Geopolitical Challenges

2019 was a year of intense confrontations, marked by strong domestic pushbacks and sprawling geostrategic competition. Internationally, rivalries between superpowers — notably, the US and China — are fragmenting existing partnerships. And midsize countries are finding their maneuverability to be limited; it is increasingly difficult for them to avoid being pressured into the orbits of larger powers. More of the same is expected in 2020 and beyond, which will likely challenge both domestic agendas and international cooperation on a variety of topics.

Intensifying Economic Confrontations and a Potential Slowdown

Confidence about the direction of the world economy worsened during 2019. Protectionist policies — including action taken by the US and China in the two countries’ longstanding trade war — continue to undermine global trade and investment. Many countries are reevaluating their foreign direct investment rules. And with interest rates remaining low, some governments have little to no fiscal and monetary firepower with which to counter a slowdown and possible recession.

Accumulating Biodiversity Losses

From the collapse of food and health systems to the disruption of entire supply chains, biodiversity loss has critical implications for humanity. And the WEF’s multistakeholder network rate biodiversity loss as the second most impactful and third most likely risk for the next decade.

Health Systems Under Pressure

Changing societal, environmental, demographic, and technological patterns are straining health systems globally. And while transformative technologies and other care-related developments can yield improvements in care, they also bring new risks and trade-offs for health systems and societies.

Read More Urgency Requires Greater Resilience for more takeaways from the Global Risks Report 2020  along with recommendations for risk professionals and other senior leaders.