6 Aug 2013

Global risks

The report ‘Global Risks 2013’ of the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, is impressive. You can find it here http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2013/

It provides an overview of risks as they are seen based on a yearly repeated survey of of over 1000 experts from industry, government and academia. Severe income disparities and chronic fiscal imbalance are considered the most prevalent global risks, next to (consequences of) greenhouse gas emissions e.g. for natural disasters.

The topic of ‘digital wildfires’ is scrutinized, including includes various risks related to the hyperconnectivity of society nowadays, such as massive digital misinformation and cyber attacks. For example, fake tweets have moved markets and influenced elections. This calls for an responsibility and a healthy skepticism of social media users. Obviously social media bring advantages as well as challenges.

Several of our research projects, and the researchers and students involved, aim at investigating and enhancing resilience, see www.crisiscommunication.com. Resilience can be seen on the level of individuals, groups and societies. It relates to the potential to bounce back and recover from crises. Resilience is considered especially needed where risks are non-predictable.

An important resource for resilience is human capital, communities that are able to self-organize. Flexibility and connections between institutions and with public groups, creativity and innovation help create safety as a co-production of social networks and governmental organizations. Communication can contribute to resilience by facilitating such cooperation. This includes sharing of information, e.g. by crowdsourcing. Monitoring social media is important, but what then? We should get also a clearer picture of communication strategies that facilitate this co-production and thus support resilience in various situations. There is a lot to be investigated and developed!