WEF Global Risks Report 2024: what it means for Crisis Communicators

Strategies for Navigating an Increasingly Complex Risk Landscape

Dear reader,

It’s that time of the year again, and “risk reports” will be published, commented on, and analysed.

I want to share my thoughts on the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2024, which was released today.

I am looking forward to receiving your feedback and would love to hear what your top risks are for this year.

Just reply to this email and let’s discuss.

Enjoy!World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2024

As communication professionals focused on risk, crises, and emergencies, our role in dealing with global risks has never been more important.

The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2024 analyses the challenges we face and emphasises the importance of effective communication strategies in a changing world.

The report describes the situation against a backdrop of accelerating technological change and economic uncertainty, in which the twin crises of climate and conflict have taken centre stage.

The geopolitical landscape is characterised by tensions and hostilities, contributing to an unstable world order characterised by dwindling trust and insecurity.

Source World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey 2023-2024.

At the same time, the world is struggling with the impact of extreme weather events as efforts to adapt to climate change lag behind the scale and intensity of climate-related events.

For communications professionals, these findings highlight the importance of crafting messages that resonate in a polarised environment.

Misinformation and disinformation have quickly risen to the top 10 risks in the last two years. This shows the importance of vigilant and proactive communication measures to combat the spread of misinformation, especially during elections and other important democratic processes.

The next 10 years

The report also looks ahead to the next decade, outlining the key risks against a backdrop of geostrategic, climatic, technological, and demographic shifts.

In particular, the potential crossing of climate tipping points could push the world towards a 3°C scenario and pose major challenges for risk communication as societies struggle to adapt to these changes.

The rise of AI and its integration into conflict decision-making is another major concern. Clear communication channels and protocols are necessary in the military and defense context due to the potential of AI to unintentionally escalate conflicts.

Economic pressures, including the risk of an economic downturn, inflation, and the displacement of jobs by technological advances, pose additional challenges. These economic risks underscore the need for communication strategies that address public concerns and promote dialogue between policymakers, businesses, and affected communities.

The report points out that, while collaboration in a fragmented world may be difficult, localised strategies, pioneering efforts, collective action, and cross-border coordination remain essential to addressing global risks.

We as communication professionals have a central role to play in promoting understanding, facilitating dialogue, and building consensus around these strategic approaches.

What can we do?

Cultivate interdisciplinary knowledge.

Keep abreast of global risk trends by engaging in comprehensive analyses and collaborating with experts in fields such as engineering, climate science, and economics to develop communication strategies.

Improve the integrity of information.

Develop robust vetting processes, sharpen the information literacy of your audience, and utilise technology to effectively combat misinformation and disinformation.

Promote adaptability and readiness.

Develop flexible communication plans that can adapt to different scenarios, especially in the context of climate risks and AI advancements, to quickly inform the public in times of crisis.

Engage with the community.

Tailor strategies to build resilience at the community level and promote collective action through clear, understandable messages that encourage community-led risk reduction measures.

Focus on transparency and trust.

Build trust through consistent, transparent, and empathetic communication, using both digital and traditional platforms to reach a broad audience and sustain engagement in times of crisis.

Download the full Report

What do you think? What are your “risk priorities” for this year?

Did you check out my crisis and emergency communication resources yet? You can download templates, checklists, and practical guidance on this page. You will find tools such as a Crisis Communication Plan Template, the Audience Canvas for Emergency Communication, and much more.

What I am reading/testing/checking out:

  • Rabit OS - a personalised operating system with a natural language interface.

  • Research: Evaluating Crisis Communication. A 30-item Checklist for Assessing Performance during COVID-19 and Other Pandemics

  • Typeframes: Stunning product videos in minutes

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