Diseases Without Borders

DAVOS – Today’s world seems more risk-laden than ever. The increasingly visible effects of climate change, rising geopolitical tensions, state crisis and collapse, inadequate or unequal economic opportunities, and the spread of infectious diseases – to name just some of the highest-profile threats – have created an environment of great uncertainty. Will 2015 be the year when these risks come to a head, or the moment when world leaders come together to develop real strategies for mitigating them?

This week, I am joining leaders from the worlds of business, government, politics, the arts, and academia at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the risks that the world faces. Of course, determining which challenges merit the most attention will not be easy.

That is where the WEF’s annual Global Risks reports can help. Drawing on the perspectives of roughly 900 experts and decision-makers from around the world who participate in the WEF’s global risks-perception survey, this year’s report found that, for the first time in its ten-year history, economic risks are taking a backseat to environmental and geopolitical concerns.

Specifically, participants rated interstate conflict with regional consequences as the top risk, in terms of likelihood, facing the world in 2015, with extreme weather events coming in second. The top risks in terms of impact were water crises and the spread of infectious diseases.