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Emerging Risks in the 21st Century

An Agenda for Action

image of Emerging Risks in the 21st Century

The 21st Century has so far witnessed a host of large-scale disasters in various parts of the world including: windstorms, flooding, new diseases infesting both humans and animals, terrorist attacks and major disruptions to critical infrastructures. It is not just the nature of major risks that seems to be changing, but also the context in which risks are evolving as well as society’s capacity to manage them.  This book explores the implications of these developments for economy and society in the 21st century, focussing in particular on the potentially significant increase in the vulnerability of major systems.  It concentrates on five large risk clusters: natural disasters, technological accidents, infectious diseases, food safety and terrorism, identifies the challenges facing OECD countries and sets out recommendations for governments and the private sector as to how the management of emerging systemic risks might be improved.

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Conclusions and Recommendations

An over-arching conclusion drawn from the analysis in this report is that emerging systemic risks demand a systemic response. This final chapter presents a set of general recommendations for public sector and private sector decision-makers that provide some of the elements for such a response. They are grouped under five major headings: adopting a new policy approach to risk management; developing synergies between the public and private sectors; informing and involving stakeholders and the general public; strengthening international co-operation in all elements of the risk management cycle; and making better use of technological potential and enhancing research efforts.

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