The Initiative

There is increasing recognition across multiple sectors of society that the global risks we face are increasingly complex, uncertain, and systemic. Understanding global risks is essential to effectively respond to and govern them. Future Earth’s Global Risks Perceptions Initiative strives to capture and analyze the perceptions on global risk of different scientific communities with the aim of sparking and informing a pluralistic dialogue around risks that draws on a diversity of experience and knowledge. Ultimately, we strive to enrich our understanding of risks through dialogue and move the global narrative towards solutions.

Our Rationale

How we perceive risk affects how we act on it.

For this reason, it is critical that we accurately assess the full range of risks to humanity and the planet. Over the past 15 years, dialogues and framings of global risks have been strongly shaped by the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Report, which surveys the global risk perceptions of world leaders from business, academic, and policy spheres. Yet, as global risks become increasingly complex and interrelated, our ability to accurately and legitimately appraise these risks requires a broadening of the communities assessing them.

Around the world, people’s vulnerability to hazards differ based on their location, socio-economic status, gender, age, education, cultural background, and a number of other factors. Only through inclusive dialogues and a strong understanding of the forces and factors that shape our perception of risk can different segments of society jointly move towards developing common strategies to mitigate and adapt to them. Such collective action will only come about when there is a common and shared sense of risk.

Through our Global Risks Perceptions Initiative, Future Earth is working to bring more voices into the global dialogue on risks through expert community surveys, facilitated online dialogues, and new partnerships. Through our Global Risks Scientists’ Perception survey and related activities, we aim to engage the global change science community in these discussions to capture evidence-based insights on global risks. The results from this survey are presented here in the inaugural edition of the Future Earth Risks Perceptions Report 2020.