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Global Risks Report shows reasons for hope in collaboration

February 27, 2017

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2017 outlines risks that threaten businesses, governments, the environment and society. Zurich sees collaboration as the key to mitigating those risks and building more resilient communities.

Chief Executive Officer

Mike Foley is Chief Executive Officer for Zurich North America and is a member of the Zurich... About this expert

Global Risks Report 2017

The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2017 addresses a wide range of risks that threaten businesses, governments, the environment and society itself. The Report warns that in the absence of immediate action, these risks will grow and have a long-term impact on the global economy.

At first glance, it paints a pretty bleak picture of the future, but a deeper dive into the Report reveals a sense of hopefulness in its clearly articulated pathways to solutions and the resolutions of global conflicts.

Zurich Insurance—a strategic partner in the Report with WEF and Marsh & McLennan—shares this hopefulness. In part, that is why Zurich has identified “collaboration” as its core topic in the Report.

This year’s report call for action is on the necessity for the world to find common cause in its shared challenges and address these collaboratively—what we call the “collaboration imperative.”

The year 2017 will present a pivotal moment for the global community. The threat of a less cooperative, more inward-looking world also creates the opportunity to address global risks and the trends that drive them. This will require responsive and responsible leadership with a deeper commitment to inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally. It will also require collaboration across multiple interconnected systems, countries, areas of expertise and stakeholder groups with the aim of having a greater societal impact.

Collaboration is not a new concept to Zurich in North America. We have been working with governments, businesses, communities and non-governmental agencies for decades to seek solutions to common risks, particularly when it comes to flood resilience and other extreme weather events.

For the first time in 12 years, extreme weather was identified in the Report as the top risk in terms of likelihood. This is according to the results of the Global Risk Perception Survey, in which 750 members of the WEF’s global multi-stakeholder community were asked to consider 30 global risks categorized as societal, technological, economic, environmental or geopolitical over a 10-year horizon.

Extreme weather was named the second biggest risk in terms of impact over the next 10 years, and other environmental risks (major natural disasters, water crises and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaption) dominated the survey results.

In North America, extreme weather has always been a top concern of risk managers, and we at Zurich recognize this perennial threat. That’s why we are collaborating with SBP and its Disaster Resilience & Recovery Lab to help build greater community resilience to extreme weather events. In 2014, Zurich gave a $3 million grant to SBP. In addition, Predictive Analytics teams from Zurich identified 10 cities that could benefit from disaster preparedness and response training, and Zurich’s Learning & Development and Risk Engineering created curriculum that SBP is using to educate governments, small businesses and people about disaster preparedness and response.

Last year, we continued our commitment to the sustainability and resilience of New Orleans with a $1 million donation to the Bayou District Foundation that supports the construction of a state-of-the-art drainage and flood control system in City Park that will also benefit surrounding neighborhoods.

Zurich also collaborated with insurance broker Aon and non-profit ISET-International to study flood resilience in South Carolina following the devastating October 2015 floods there. The lessons learned in South Carolina can be applied to other communities exposed to flooding.

Whether it’s water shortages, international migration, trade disputes or evolving geopolitical risk, there will always be risks in the world. But if these collaborative efforts demonstrate anything, it is that by working together we can build resilience.

The World Economic Forum’s news release announcing the launch of The Global Risks Report 2017 carried this headline: “Under-Employed, Under-Inclusive and Under Threat: the World in 2017.” With an eye toward a more collaborative future, we can add to that, “Underestimated Resolve.”

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