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2020 Global Risks Perception Survey

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Reading: 2020 Global Risks Perception Survey from the World Economic Forum

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WEF’s 2020 Global Risks Perception Survey

The 15th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report comes as long-mounting, interconnected risks are being felt. 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.

A need for adaptive geopolitics
As the outlines of the next geopolitical era start to emerge, there is still uncertainty about where the distribution of power will settle and from where influence will emanate, but a snap back to the old order appears unlikely. If stakeholders attempt to bide their time, waiting for the old system to return, they will be ill-prepared for what lies ahead and may miss the point at which key challenges—economic, societal, technological or environmental—can be addressed. Instead, longstanding institutions must adapt to the present and be upgraded or reimagined for the future. There are signs of adaptation in the creation of new institutions designed to function in this turbulent geopolitical climate. One example is the Franco-German “Alliance for Multilateralism,” a group of nations working to boost international cooperation in areas such as disarmament, digitalization, and climate change.

Another is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which will bring together the 55 member states of the African Union to form the largest free trade area since the formation of the WTO. Narrower, issue- specific, ad-hoc “coalitions of the willing” are proliferating—including Asian regional trade and investment instruments, the “Quad” (consultation among Australia,India, Japan and the United States), and the Global Coalition against Daesh. While aiming to address collective priorities, however, such adaptive approaches run the risk of being less effective because they lack the legitimacy of broad-based multilateral institutions. Still, they point to the need for continued coordination and partnership during an unsettled time.

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