Growing social, economic, and technological divisions have implications for our ability to address major risks at the societal, company, and/or industry levels. Increasing resilience and learning from pandemic lessons focus on macro-risk forecasting and management. Analyzing them is a curative approach, of understanding and reflection, to identify the right solutions.
In the 2021 edition of the Global Risk Report, the Global Economic Forum focuses on the following:
The economic shock of the pandemic exposed the deficiencies of health and education systems, but also the differences in financial stability and technology between countries, which give their ability to respond and differentiated impact. As more and more countries enter the third wave of the pandemic, it becomes increasingly clear that the economic and health impact will continue to have devastating effects on the economy.
Statistics show that only 28 countries have experienced economic growth in 2020 and the gap between consuming market and emerging markets or developing ones is becoming clearer. At the same time, the high number of deaths and the reduction of livelihoods increase the risk of erosion of social cohesion and underline economic fragility.
Through digitalization, human interaction has found its place in the online environment, e-commerce has increased, online education and distance work has spread. These changes will transform society long after the pandemic and promise important benefits by emphasizing both benefits and risks.
The pandemic revealed differences between the countries in terms of the infrastructure needed to use digital tools. We have all seen residents in disadvantaged areas forced by the situation to pay their taxes online or children from rural areas, without access to a laptop or internet, forced to attend online classes.
In the face of growing digital dependence, “digital inequality” is emerging as a major short-term threat, may exacerbate social fractures, and undermine the prospects for a recovery of intra- and inter-community gaps.
The Lost Generation Syndrome
While digital progress has brought opportunities for some young people, many are now entering a blocked labor market with few or no employment opportunities. After the period 2008-2012, young people are now facing the second major global crisis in the last decade. Already exposed to environmental degradation, the consequences of the financial crisis, growing inequality, and discontinuities of all kinds, this generation faces serious challenges to their education, economic prospects, and emotional health.
The disappointment produced by the “world received” from their parents gives rise to impingement current of the anti-natalism type. Unprepared for this world, sometimes children end up suing their parents for the reason of having given them birth without asking them.
Neglected by most decision-makers, the disappointment of this generation can turn into the proliferation of conspiracy theories and anarchist currents, diligent sharing of messages on social media that call for disengagement or revolt, distrust of institutions, and anomie. As the glaciers melt, the premises of a probable epoch of glacial evolution are created.
According to tradition, the world will manage this crisis believing that it will avoid the next one. The economic risks resulting from this management are amplified by the prolonged duration of the crisis and include stagnation in advanced economies, opportunity costs in emerging markets, or the widening of gaps in developing countries.
The formulation of the detailed analytical frameworks needed to have a holistic picture of the impact of these risks on economic and social systems helps to identify potential dependencies, consequences, vulnerabilities, and blind spots. Government institutions, economic representatives, and civil society all have a role to play in developing these systemic perspectives.
The systemic analysis provides a reliable basis for testing hypotheses, identifying, and comparing different solutions, examining response capabilities in the event of new crises, and creating anticipatory scenarios.