January 22 – 23rd 2013 – The World Economic Forum

THUNDER BAY – The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

On January 22nd and 23rd from Davos-Klosters Switzerland the forum is meeting. The main topic is a report: Global Risks Report 2013.

Livestream coverage of the Conference will start on Tuesday.

The World Economic Forum – Live

The theme this year is Resilient Dynamism, an idea that also shapes the Forum’s forthcoming flagship report, Global Risks 2013. Resilience and dynamism are the qualities that countries most need to thrive in today’s world, but neither is alone sufficient. It is the combination that makes the difference.

Resilience is crucial because, in a hyperconnected and interdependent world, no one country or organization can manage global challenges on its own. To be resilient is to be able to adapt to changing political and economic contexts and pursue critical goals while also being able to withstand and recover from sudden shocks. Today’s biggest challenges, meanwhile, also demand dynamism — overcoming the ongoing global economic malaise, for example, requires the capacity for bold vision and even bolder action.

The Global Risks 2013 report is based on an in-depth survey of more than 1,000 experts across the world. It measures their perceptions of the potential impact of 50 global risks over the next ten years and, most important, how interconnected those risks are. Those surveyed selected “severe income disparity” followed by “chronic fiscal imbalances” as the two most prevalent global risks. These results reflect ongoing concerns about high levels of government debt and a somewhat pessimistic overall economic outlook. After a year scarred by extreme weather, experts rated “rising greenhouse gas emissions” third. They rated “failure of climate change adaptation” — our inability to adapt adequately — as having the most knock-on effects of all challenges in the environmental category. Viewed together, these findings point to a profound concern over whether the world can address climate change and economic hardship simultaneously.

Is Social Media a Threat?

From the Global Risks Report – “In 1938, thousands of Americans confused a radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds with an official news broadcast and panicked, in the belief that the United States had been invaded by Martians. Is it possible that the Internet could be the source of a comparable wave of panic, but with severe geopolitical consequences?

“Social media allows information to spread around the world at breakneck speed in an open system where norms and rules are starting to emerge but have not yet been defined. While the benefits of our hyper-connected communication systems are undisputed, they could potentially enable the viral spread of information that is either intentionally or unintentionally misleading or provocative.

“Imagine a real-world example of shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre. In a virtual equivalent, damage can be done by rapid spread of misinformation even when correct information follows quickly. Are there ways for generators and consumers of social media to develop an ethos of responsibility and healthy scepticism to mitigate the risk of digital wildfires?”

Alien Life; Drug Doping; Climate Change; Costs of Living Longer – Risks to be explored

Developed in partnership with the editors of Nature, a leading science journal, the chapter on “X Factors” looks beyond the landscape of 50 global risks to alert decision-makers to five emerging game-changers:

  • Runaway climate change: Is it possible that we have already passed a point of no return and that Earth’s atmosphere is tipping rapidly into an inhospitable state?
  • Significant cognitive enhancement: Ethical dilemmas akin to doping in sports could start to extend into daily working life; an arms race in the neural “enhancement” of combat troops could also ensue.
  • Rogue deployment of geo-engineering: Technology is now being developed to manipulate the climate; a state or private individual could use it unilaterally.
  • Costs of living longer: Medical advances are prolonging life, but long-term palliative care is expensive. Covering the costs associated with old age could be a struggle.
  • Discovery of alien life: Proof of life’s existence elsewhere in the universe could have profound psychological implications for human belief systems.

The Global Risks report is the flagship research publication of the World Economic Forum’s Risk Response Network, which provides an independent platform for stakeholders to explore ways to collaborate on building resilience to global risks.

Global Risk Report

Global Risks Report – The World Economic Forum by James Murray

Microsoft Canada