Global Risks 2015 10th Edition (15)

Box 1.7: Governing the Internet — the need for mechanisms to maintain a unified and resilient network 

The pace of innovation and the highly distributed nature of the Internet require a new approach to global Internet governance and cooperation. As more people rely on the Internet, the question of Internet governance becomes increasingly important. Two kinds of issues exist: technical matters, to make sure all the infrastructure and devices that constitute the Internet can talk to each other; and overarching matters, to address cyber crime, Net neutrality, privacy and freedom of expression.

overarching matter:包括的な/全体にわたる問題

Responsibility for the technical infrastructure of the Internet is dispersed among several organizations, including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), the root servers’ operators, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The solutions they propose – policy models, standards, specifications or best practices – spread through voluntary adoption or ad hoc conventions, regulations, directives, contracts or other agreements.

voluntary adoption:自主的な原則の採択

No such systems exist for developing and implementing solutions to the overarching issues. Consequently, governments are feeling pressure to enact national measures to deal with their citizens’ data and privacy concerns. While laws that force the “localization” of infrastructure may be easier short-term solutions than collaborating to define global mechanisms for addressing the issues, the risk is that “data nationalism” could endanger the network effects that underlie the Internet’s ability to drive innovation and create social and economic value.


To advance the conversation, identify possible solutions and contribute to open, resilient and inclusive Internet governance, the World Economic Forum is embarking on a multiyear strategic initiative to bring together leaders from the public and private sectors with civil society leaders and the technical community to address these issues in an impartial, high-level dialogue. This effort will complement the expert-level discussions taking place at the Internet Governance Forum and various other grassroots and government-led initiatives.

Preparedness at the Regional Level Is Different

As most efforts to address global risks are undertaken at the national and regional levels, it is important to look at preparedness from a disaggregated perspective. Figure 1.7 illustrates for each world region those risks for which survey respondents indicated their region is the least prepared. Preparedness reflects a combination of exposure to a risk and the measures that have already been taken to mitigate or prepare for it.


It is striking that every region presents a wholly different set of issues for which it is least prepared. For example:
・ High structural unemployment or underemployment is seen as the risk for which Europe is least prepared, followed by large- scale involuntary migration and profound social instability. Both unemployment and migration flows into Europe are expected to remain high on the agenda going forward and are driving factors of social instability.


・North America identifies failure/ shortfall of critical infrastructure, large-scale cyber attacks and failure of climate-change adaptation as the three risks for which it is least prepared. Major breakdowns of infrastructure in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and the sheer number of cyber attacks illustrate the low level of preparedness.


・Sub-Saharan Africa is considered least prepared for infectious diseases and unemployment. Both are of key importance given recent events and the fact that strong population growth is expected to exacerbate unemployment in the coming years, despite expected economic growth.


・ Many regions, including Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa, also include profound social instability among the risks they are least prepared for.

・East Asia and the Pacific is perceived as least prepared for interstate conflict and failure of urban planning. It is also the only region that reported being least prepared for man-made environmental catastrophes following the 2011 Fukushima incidence.


・Failure of urban planning is among the first three risks in East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Asia. In such regions, urbanization is especially rapid and the failure of urban planning can lead to a wide range of catastrophic scenarios from social unrest to pandemic outbreak (Part 2).

Figure 1.7: For Which Global Risks Is Your Region Least Prepared?
Source: Global Risks Perception Survey 2014, World Economic Forum. Note: Respondents were asked to select three global risks that they believe their region is least prepared for. For legibility reasons, the names of the global risks are abbreviated. Please see Appendix A for the full name and description. Oceania is not displayed because of the low number of respondents.





Drawing on the perceptions of almost 900 survey respondents, this chapter focuses on the threats of social fragility and short-term worries about conflict. Rising socio-economic inequality, weak economic growth, food price volatility and food insecurity, unemployment, large-scale migration and the growing heterogeneity and interdependence of societies are among the key drivers of social fragility. Growing social polarization, isolationism and nationalism in turn have the potential to trigger geopolitical conflicts.


The section highlights the interconnections between global risks and trends. A better understanding of global risks and the interconnections between them is key to prompting discussion about how to prepare, mitigate and prevent them. Part 2 of this report analyses in detail selected clusters of interconnected risks and how they could evolve – the interplay between geopolitical and economic risks, challenges related to urbanization in developing countries and emerging technologies.



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