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World getting riskier; World Economic Forum


LONDON— The world is a significantly riskier place this year than it was last year and both business and governments are guilty of complacent risk management, according to the World Economic Forum.

The Global Risk Network of the forum published a report in London today called Global Risks 2007 that it will use as platform for discussion at the annual meeting of business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, January 24 to 28.

The report is published in cooperation with Zurich-based Swiss Reinsurance Co., New York- based broker Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc., bank Citigroup Inc. and Wharton School Risk Center in Pennsylvania.

The Global Risk Network has identified 23 core global risks to the international community over the next 10 years. It polls a broad panel of risk experts each year to determine whether each risk is regarded as worse or better.

Of the 23, some 15 risks are regarded as being worse, six show no change and the experts could not agree on two risks.

The group has concluded that both business and governments identify, analyze and work out how to mitigate risk but do not focus enough upon trying to prevent risks becoming actual events through prevention measures.

Jacques Aigrain, chief executive officer of Swiss Re, and Michael Cherkasky, president and CEO of Marsh, both said that companies and governments need to invest more up front, particularly with so-called fat tail risks, to ensure they do not materialize.

The two executives also said that companies and governments need to pay much more attention to risk interdependencies that have become so much more common and complex in the global economy.

And they suggested that one way for governments to try and cope with the ever-growing breadth and complexity of risk faced by nations is to create the role of country chief risk officer.

"Risks are often still viewed and dealt with in isolation. However, in today's world global risks are tightly interwoven. To address our contemporary risk landscape, governments and enterprises need to take a holistic approach to overcome silo-thinking and acting," said Mr. Aigrain.

"We need to prioritize risks effectively, improve preparedness and strengthen public-private partnerships to mitigate risks and to finance economic losses. Finally, we propose to coordinate global risk mitigation efforts by creating the function of Chief Risk Officers at governmental level who regulatory meet on an international level," he continued.