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.

English Also available in: French

Risk Prevention

This chapter is about actions aimed at preventing disaster, or at reducing its consequences before it occurs. In the area of emerging systemic risks, these actions fall into two categories. The first are called "protective strategies" in this report; they have to do with protecting a specific system against hazards or reducing its vulnerability. The second category, "framework conditions", consists of measures to implement and enforce risk prevention, regulate liability and compensation, increase transparency and availability of information, and so on. The chapter highlights the special challenges to prevention which systemic risks pose.


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