The Global Catastrophic Risks Report 2022


Report / Paper

Published 2022-11-30

Rocket start from desert, 3d illustration.

Urgent upgrade of global cooperation needed to tackle existential risk

Global catastrophic risks have intensified at an unprecedented rate in 2022, intersecting and reinforcing each other with far-reaching consequences.

This report is released in the wake of the failure of the COP27 climate talks to agree strong measures to curb fossil fuel production, and as the ripple effects of the Ukraine war continue to be felt worldwide in terms of heightened nuclear risk, severe food and energy insecurity, surging inflation and poverty. 

The Global Challenges Foundation calls on the international community to urgently push forward new initiatives to understand and manage this complex convergence of global risks. 

Jens Orback, Executive Director of the Global Challenges Foundation says: 

“This year of global risks and colliding consequences highlights the need for an urgent upgrade of international cooperation. We need better information on how global risks are reinforcing each other and better mechanisms to allow us to manage them in a more holistic way.

The crisis in Ukraine is compounding the severe impacts of climate change and the pandemic in many parts of the world, while slowing attempts to deal with a heating planet. Meanwhile, the destruction of our natural environment also heightens the risk of new pandemics.”

Orback highlights several proposed initiatives to better manage converging global risks including:

  • A global cooperation of scientific institutes to study the mechanisms amplifying, accelerating and synchronising systemic risks, as proposed by among others Johan Rockström, GCF Board member and Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
  • Proposals from the United Nations Secretary-General’s 2021 Our Common Agenda report such as an Emergency Platform that would be triggered by a major crisis such as the use of a nuclear weapon and coordinate a global response, and the revival of the UN’s Trusteeship Council, as a multi-stakeholder body to tackle emerging challenges and to act to preserve the global commons on behalf of future generations.
  • A tax on carbon emissions with the revenue going to those most affected by climate change. Both a global tax and national taxes at a minimum level would be positive pathways forward.

The risk of nuclear conflict is one that has intensified in 2022 with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For the Global Catastrophic Risks report, Dr Kennette Benedict of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in Chicago writes that it is now more likely than ever that nuclear weapons will be used in either military actions, miscalculation or by accident than at any time since the beginning of the nuclear age.

Forest fire burning in Montana east of Missoula late July 2007.

Catastrophic Risks 2022: A year of colliding consequences

Read the report

More on the topic

Paper on global polycrisis

Paper on global polycrisis

A call for an international research program on the risk of a global polycrisis.

Read the paper
What Happens When a Cascade of Crises Collide?
Picture from above on a wave from the ocean striking rocks on land and trees to the left.

What Happens When a Cascade of Crises Collide?

Op-ed in New York Times, NYT, by Thomas Homer-Dixon and Johan Rockström

Op-Ed in NY Times
Our Common Agenda

Our Common Agenda

Proposals from the UN’s Secretary-General’s 2021 Our Common Agenda

UN web site for OCA
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