Global Risks

The mission of the Global Challenges Foundation is to prevent, or at least reduce the probability, of a catastrophe that would cause the death of over 10% of humanity, or cause damage on a similar scale. This is known as a global catastrophic risk.

Traditional risk analysis considers the following equation. The total magnitude of a risk is a factor of the potential future damage, multiplied by the probability that this damage will occur. What this equation clearly shows is that when the potential damage of a risk is of enormous scale, we cannot simply discount it on the basis of uncertainty, or seemingly low probability.

Global catastrophes are not unprecedented. In the past, plagues have killed over 10% of the world’s population. More recently, in the 20th century, the world has come close to nuclear war several times. The most dramatic change may be that that humankind is capable, for the first time in history, of seriously damaging the very ecosystem that we are all completely dependent on. 

Risks associated to weapons of mass destruction, together with climate change and other large-scale environmental degradation, are our Foundation’s main area of concern. This concern extends beyond the risks themselves to three underlying forces that amplify the likelihood and impact of those risks: population growth, extreme poverty and politically motivated violence.

Better understanding those risks, and developing governance models that can help mitigate them, reduce them – or even eliminate them entirely – is our Foundation’s reason for being. To learn more about each of the global catastrophic risks that we face today, you can click through the links below.