Sunday, February 18, 2007

Global risks and your nonprofit

Thanks to Deon Binneman's blog , I just checked out the World Economic Forum's Global Risks 2007 report.

One of the 7 Paths nonprofits use to thrive is the ecosystem path. The path is based on the principle that organizations thrive on healthy, improvisational relationships with their environment.

A shriveling organization defends its border against the world but a thriving organization sees its external borders as creative points for discovering the healthiest ways to improvise with reality around the organization.

The Global Risks 2007 reports indicates how the ecosystem your nonprofit operates in may shift, requiring you to improvise. Here are the 23 "Core” Global Risks they've indentified in the world economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological ecosystem:


• Oil price shock/energy supply interruptions
• US current account deficit/fall in US$
• Chinese economic hard landing
• Fiscal crises caused by demographic shift
• Blow up in asset prices/excessive indebtedness


• Climate change
• Loss of freshwater services
• Natural catastrophe: Tropical storms
• Natural catastrophe: Earthquakes
• Natural catastrophe: Inland flooding


• International terrorism
• Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
• Interstate and civil wars
• Failed and failing states
• Transnational crime and corruption
• Retrenchment from globalization
• Middle East instability


• Pandemics
• Infectious diseases in the developing world
• Chronic disease in the developed world
• Liability regimes

• Breakdown of critical information infrastructure (CII)
• Emergence of risks associated with nanotechnology

These litany of risks are scary, especial when the introduction of the report says, "Expert opinion suggests that levels of risk are rising in almost all of the 23 risks on which the Global Risk Network has been focused over the last year – but mechanisms in place to manage and mitigate risk at the level of businesses, governments and global governance are inadequate."

The basic premise of Evergreen Leaders is that nonprofits exist to meet deep human needs and to be great workplaces. Nonprofits that have healthy, improvisational relationships with their environment will have plenty of deep human needs to meet.