Resilience and Dynamism

How Countries Survive -- And Thrive

(Tony Hall / Flickr) 

This month, the World Economic Forum will convene world leaders at its annual meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. 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.

The interplay of these two challenges formed the lead risk case in this year's report. The case reflects a wider shift in thinking about climate change, as consensus has grown about the effects and seeming inevitability of global temperature increases. If current pledges to reduce greenhouse gas

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