The first global pandemic in over 100 years, COVID-19 spread across the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, over 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have perished.
The crisis has exposed fundamental shortcomings in pandemic preparedness, socio-economic safety nets and global cooperation. Governments and businesses have struggled to address compounding repercussions in the form of workforce challenges, disruptions in essential supplies and social instability. They have had to balance health security imperatives against the economic fallout and rising societal anxieties, while relying on digital infrastructure in unprecedented ways.
As countries seek to recover, some of the more lasting economic, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are only beginning to become visible. While societies, governments and businesses collectively grapple with these possibilities, it is vital to anticipate the emerging risks generated by the repercussions from the pandemic. This report seeks to provide a preliminary picture of which familiar risks may be amplified by the crisis and which new ones may emerge, recognising that key issues remain to be analysed – health and geopolitics among them. This report is an initial mapping that will be supplemented by further work including the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.