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Ahead of Davos 2017... we look back to Davos 2016 and the six predicted trends

By Dr Jim Ormond and Jane Fiona Cumming

On the 17th January 2017, global political and business leaders will meet in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. Ahead of the next summit, we look back at six of the key trends discussed at last year's Annual Meeting. The theme was Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, here we review and share our commentary on how the trends materialised, .

"The bill for hindsight is much more expensive than the receipt for foresight.” - Johnnie Dent Jr.

1. [Dis]empowered citizens

Protest intensity has reached its highest level since 2011 and the Arab Spring. Global data suggests we are approaching levels of protest last seen in the 1980s, when social turmoil included Cold War tensions, anti-apartheid sentiment, and the Tiananmen Square protests.

  • January: Profound social instability is identified by the WEF as 2016's most interconnected risk, both for an 18-month and 10-year time horizon. Read more...
  • December: Only half of children earn more than their parents - but is inequality really to blame? Read more...

2. The rise of automation

We are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. It is estimated that up to 50% of jobs in the USA will be automated in the next two decades and 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in job types that don’t yet exist.

  • February: Japanese firm to open world's first robot-run farm - whilst this may be good news for food security is it bad news for job security? Read more...
  • November: McDonald's new self-service kiosks and what this means for the global workforce, by the former CEO of McDonald’s.Read more...

3. Inequality

“We are living in a world of widening, not diminishing, financial inequality, in which many people can see not just their standard of living, but their ability to earn a living at all, disappearing” Stephen Hawking.

  • January: Ted Talk from David Burkus questions our cultural assumptions around keeping salaries secret and makes a compelling case for why sharing them could benefit employees, organizations and society. Read more...  
  • April: With women's hourly earnings on average 16% below those of men in the European Union - new requirements are introduced for firms to reveal their gender pay gap. Read more...  

4. Cybercrime and civil liberties

Cyber-crime results in over $440 billion being stolen from the world economy each year, and it continues to grow exponentially. In eight countries, cyber-crime has now been identified as the number one risk for doing business, including in the US, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Singapore.

  • September: Amnesty International ranks technology companies on whether they are meeting their human rights responsibilities by protecting users’ right to privacy online. Read more...
  • November: In the UK, the The Investigatory Powers Bill (or colloquially, the Snoopers Charter), has passed into law, despite criticism it is intrusive and draconian. Read more...

5. Climate change on food security

Climate change and food security is a complex issue. While agriculture is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, nearly a billion people are still hungry today. With agricultural yields set to drop 20% in some areas because of climate change, action is urgently needed.

  • July: Report from the FAO states that global agriculture needs a ‘profound transformation’ to fight climate change and protect food security. Read more... 
  • August: New report on how climate change will affect crop yields, local economies and food security in North-Eastern Brazil, Central America and parts of the Andean region. Read more...

6. Pandemics threaten social cohesion

The spread of infectious diseases has been identified as a top 8 risk by WEF. It is estimated that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could result in US$100 trillion in lost output by 2050 if no action is taken.

  • March: The National Academy of Medicine says future pandemics have the potential to kill millions and cause economic losses in the trillions of dollars. Read more...
  • July: A 'slow catastrophe' unfolds as the golden age of antibiotics comes to an end. Read more...

In 2017, Article 13 will be profiling the outcomes from the WEF Annual Meeting

For further information and to discuss what the WEF 2017 Risk Register may mean for your organisation – contact Jane Fiona Cumming at Article 13

Image via UnSplash - Elias Ehmann

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