Web of top 50 risks people worldwide want to see reduced

Author: Chris Macrae

What NEED does this meet?

This is a rough concept but an idea I have heard many people voice

It would need a panel as well as a web. They would need to be seen as worldwide and contextual experts in justice but the job assigned to them would not be too onerous. For example, quarterly approve a batch of risk statements each to be added into its own communal thread. Where necessary edit the language of the risk goal to unite rather than divide everyone

Typical panel members might include Peter Eigen of Transparency International transparency.org , Oded Grajew of the world social forum, Bill Drayton of ashoka.org- all of whom who have devoted a lifetime of work to understanding risks globalisation is in danger of compounding onto digitally divided or otherwise discriminated against communities. The panel should have a representative of all major religions, races etc that have a significant poverty population in their midst. We are looking at risks that wave beyond borders.

Examples might be:
organic – reduce the risk of cancerous poisons in out food and water chains

end petroleum economics addiction with a special effort to develop a package tour guide to all open photosynthesis and sunshine experiments

The threads would also need moderating. But instead of long debating posts, the webs community would be encouraged to vote on most urgent risks and to catalogue simple questions – a question might be which global market sector has the most responsibility for reducing this risk if all its largest organisations collaborated?

In parallel to the thread of questions, we might have a 2nd column where accredited journalists or other open survey institutes announced links to any research of the question they were following up.

The idea of this web is not to do too much but to prepare the way. For example, some of the risks and questions might at a next step become a series for the BBC or other public broadcaster to raise in a world service and scaled way. Step by step advances in transparency mapmaking and cross-cultural reconciliation are do-able now but if we wait even one more decade the consequences for sustainability of all peoples are, according to various independent mathematical models, not good.

What is the APPROACH?

see 1 for plan; I would not have suggested this if I was aware of it being done

What are the BENEFITS to people?

Currently organisations are governed formally only on monetary value not other compound values like health, cross-cultural safety, communal goodwill etc, environmental and networked intelligence;

risk reduction is the simplest popular way to start intervening with wrong mathematical assumptions currently embedded in a globalisation -which can only compound more dis-trust less transparency unless the auditing and whole recognition for responsibility flows are systemically changed

another benefit is that future generations will be sustained ; moreover risk is something teachers of children need to develop a new syllabus on and the questions from 360 degrees of global villages concerned by particular risks might provide some clues to developing an outline of that

What is the COMPETITION?

None that I am aware of. However please note this is a collaborative idea. If you have a simpler one for turning round risks of globalisation (and as Queen Elizabeth in her ened 2005 speech to the nation voiced “humanity turing on itself) then I vote for that

What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?

It’s less about money and technology than whether the people behind this competition feel the time has come to use their influence to support a worldwide risk reduction project. And can we see this as a stepping stone that for example could enable the BBC as world’s largest public broadcaster to take debates like Make Poverty History to a new integral level of understanding; connecting practical common sense that people in grassroots crisis situations can see has rooted long-term sustainability problems; reducing risks externalised onto the digitally divided or those who have historically been most discriminated against.


  1. Hugely contentious. For starters, you gloss over the key questions of who decides how to appoint the panel and how, once appointed, it actually goes about the task of preparing and approving risk statements. Not to mention who finances its work.

    Also, the “web community” is distinctly unrepresentative of “significant poverty population(s)”. As such, what credence should one attach to its votes?

    In effect, your proposal amounts to the creation of a think-tank (which isn’t necessarily wrong). Doing it via the web doesn’t make it any more representative, inclusive, democratic or legitimate than other think-tanks, many of which are correctly viewed as highly partisan.

  2. Committees and groups are a tiresome thing and the wisdom of Hilary’s comment above shines through. Aside from the technicalities of implementation which I believe is not necessarily Chris’ forte what he wants to achieve is rather insightful.

    Echoing above ‘what credence should one attach’ I think, as yet apart from the illuminating 2020 report over at dni.gov we do not have a way of measuring the public empathy/sympathy (other than via a general election) in this global debate, is it fair to assume we’re all ignorant or incapable of making a difference?

    One of my associates recently commented “where’s the political voice in Britain” to which I shared another set of links to many of the best UK political blogs. He’s still working through the list!

    My society is not the home counties, it’s not metropolitan London, neither is it the foreign land of my wife’s family’s origin. MySociety is global now.

    I’d like ever so much if perhaps globally we knew what our priorities were as we’re doing rather well self-organising as shown by this MySociety proposal: http://www.mysociety.org/?p=206.

    In recent times politicians talk about work/life balance and green issues, others discuss new tax regimes that benefit green policies – either way both nationally and internationally what should we know, what can we do, who do we help, who is trying to help us and who is getting in the way.

    I think Chris hit the nail on the head, what are those top 50 risks and who’s responsible? Who’s got the greatest influence – lets see a transparent scenario develop that builds global trust amongst all members, not just those in and with power.

    We need a site that can be a beacon across Europe to the new society of participation and free access to knowledge. Perhaps what Chris is trying to achieve could be a catalyst to that goal?

  3. I am quite surprised at the style of Hilary’s comment. How on earth are we ever going to deal with the most risky and serious corruption issues if one starts from the assumptions inferred on to me? The three organisations I gave as examples are according to a survey of about a thousand my risk professional friends (I have talked at many annual gathering of risk professionals etc) and I have tracked over many years the most deep in representing poverty all over the world, and I would say in combatting big vested interests the most democratic. Of course, I am delighted if people come up with other survey results or nominations in a more extensive panel selection stage. I would love to discover there are more networks working in these areas.

    The trouble is dealing directly with corruption; confronting industry sectors that are knowingly compounding profits at the loss of lives or sustainability of the planet is dangerous work. So a web would need to focus on those aspects that can be penned out safely into public debate as well as awareness.

    Fortunately there is an easy way to get any jury of 12 people to decide whether Hilary has been totally unfair or if I am. You can view the three dvds which explain Peter Eigen’s life work.

    In one of them, and if anyone wants me to type up the transcript I am happy to do so, Peter Eigen explains how he had a long discussion with Kofi Annan about the 9 principles of the Global Compact. Peter who spent much of his former career at the world bank could prove that all these 9 principles of ending poverty were fluff (not systemically capable of turning globalisation of the big get bigger at any price around) unless you anchored them in a 10th end corruption principle – which Koffi has adopted and now calls the Peter Principle.

    I have to tell you that over the years that I have monitored young people’s discussion in poor countries, my heart breaks how often they come back to the one thing we need is “end corruption”.

    I am not arguing that my quick specification is perfect; of course it can be improved and iterated on. But if Hilary in throwing out the bath water is also implying that the “baby” of end corruption is not worthy of considering in this web competition, then that is a very sadding view and I awaqit to see if it is one that many people who link with my society hold

  4. My father and I had a conversation on sustainability’s compound exponentials – here is some more flow to reflect on about global risks or inconvenient truths. These are naturally systemic problems that no one idea is going to resolve as a box on its own -we need to interface solution molecules. Moreover as eg Einstein said, some of the old systems’ rules or governing will be part of the number 1 challenge of death of distance where communities/cultures that were once separated in their own fate become interdependent. risk and opportunity scenarios since 1984 and my father’s trilogy of surveys for The Economist converged in 1984 on the prediction that 2005 would be the summit of risk for mankind’s future and poverty’s history http://www.normanmacrae.com/netfuture.html#Anchor-Changin-27687

    In the case of my proposal here, I am assuming that opening a we space for continuously voting on a top 50 inconvenient truths that need a change of globalisation will help concentrate minds, and go beyond cultural differences because a definition of global risk is one that no one culture (and no one political party) can resolve without others.

    The tv age has compounded a loss of focus around the golden rule of relationship reciprocity that sustained our species so far. Every “well to do” person can play quizzes spectator sports, the rules of the game, who is a current number 1. Look at the BBC’s spends and share of broadcast time spent on sports. While I understand such extravagant indulgence is what the global market of commercial broadcasting does, the BBC’s world service does not have to compete to show as much couch potato content. It’s a tragedy how few people know of the top 10 games humanity now needs to bring worldwide collective questioning to. Do we need to live in a digitally divided world where 25000 children die each day just because they were born in a community that has not been getting enough understanding from the rest of the world to sustain them? Do some nations need to tax their citizens 100 days out of every year they live so that 25 of those days in very year you live are spent on weapons of destruction. This is a risk that did not really exist 2 generations ago but is on the up and up. Our school curricula should show our children graphs of such exponentials http://exponentials.blogspot.com because which way each global sector is spinning is what will have been compounded on them by those adult today. Why Was I Never Told About That is the number 1 course of How to Change The World Today see

    The human race hasn’t ever in the past discriminated against so many childrens’ lives as it is doing today. I will not be Hillaried out of asking why have our global systems been designed to compound this? But then I am not a left versus right politician – this divide has nothing to do with finding long-run answers on any truly global sustainability crisis. Mathematically sustainability crises find their root causes at border/boundary silos; national only left versus right debates are not a common sense forum for discovering solutions to global village challenges

    Turning to one example of an interface, consider Frappr’s Africa mph.
    People put themselves on this map if they are prepared to answer questions on some concern, project knowhow, relationship with aiming to Make Poverty History in Africa.
    MPH2.0 is about civil society seeing if it can interface what old institutions separated above civic society cannot do on their own. If you look west to katrina or east to tsunami, has not that penny dropped on most of our 6 billion fellow beings? Yet all of the most sincere human efforts (the modern day David Livingstones or Florence Nightingales wherever we can openly search them out to be may be) will count for nought if globalisation is still compounding risks or corruptions on to Africa and its Mid East. Anyone who looks at temporary decisions made as the British Empire past its peak of power will know that all British people have a compound duty from history to help Africa more than any other single land mass of people. Inconvenient that may be, but its sure not contentious if you read our 19th C history of slave making and Empiring over other people’s lands. We have seeded compound crises of risk in some places for 50 years in other 100 years. Britons need to grow up to this shared responsibility before many African children have a chnace to grow at all.

    So as this short tour has tried to illustrate: there are different ways of raising questions about risk that some will find contentious and others will find the opposite. I believe 3rd millennium as well as 3rd world freedom of speech means exploring all ways simultaneously. It’s interesting to identify who is afraid of a web being a spaekers corner for risk and why they feel so differently about transparency. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/G1328

    Transparency mapmakers of media -and other Entreprenurial Revolutions – who connect through http://www.valuetrue.com find it extraordinary that the BBC’s deepest journalist on nature admits to feeling a censorship on not being allowed to ask questions on global climate crisis until the crisis spins so violently that everyone can see it. According to system pattern rules when you leave a crisis that late the cost of resolution is an order of magnitude more than it need have been, and in a few years becomes an impossibility to resolve at any cost. If you believe that climate is the only crisis of that sort you have not been participating in Death of Distance debates for the last 22 years. Why has the world’s largest public broadcaster not be allowed to world serve in any major risk debate?

    My mapmaking friends and I do however assume one more cosciousness dynamic changed in 2005 due to great and courageous leadership that females seem best at. As far as we know nobody living in Britain actually found it contentious when Queen Elizabeth in her end of 2005 message to the Commonwealth suggested we debate in any and every way we can: Is Humanity turning on itself?

    C.M.Macrae.72@cantab.net and N.A.Macrae.42@cantab.net … aSIN: association Sustainability Investment Networks http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/actionnetwork/A4205819

  5. Jan Kolasinski

    Ed, thank you for pointing this site out to me. As I usually do, I first scan a document to try and grasp the general gist of it, process that information decide on whether this is worth spending time on and then give it some more thought.

    I skimmed…
    … and then I stopped.


    In Chris reaction to Hillary’s comment, he writes:
    “sustainability’s compound exponentials – here is some more flow to reflect on about global risks or inconvenient truths. These are naturally systemic problems that no one idea is going to resolve as a box on its own -we need to interface solution molecules.”

    Now can someone explain to me what this means? Somewhere in here there is a simple, straightforward idea, a GOOD one at that, one that I would want to sign up for. One that I would like to see thousands… no… hundreds of thousands sign up for.

    Only one problem: language.

    Can someone explain to me why, as soon as one tries to come up with some global social project, they must construct sentences with the 20% of the English vocabulary that no one in the world uses?

    I will support Hilary’s comment for one reason… what she is afraid of has already happened: this is a attempt at capturing intellectual high ground, not an attempt at inclusion. This is already a think tank. It will attract about 100 people in an an auction of whom will use the most obscure transposition of words, while everybody else will watch in awe.

    So here is my challenge to Chris: Could you please re-write the above “mission statement” and explanation of what you are trying to achieve in no more than 200 words taken from the 20,000 or so that form an average person’s day to day vocabulary.

    And here is my risk proposal: As we look at a world that we consider ever more complex… we risk to complicate it even more by trying to summarise it into a language that no one understands. Simplify, simplify, simplify…

    Use English.

    Good day to you all…


  6. Jan if you go to http://exponentials.blogspot.com , you will start to see what this means; or if you google unseen wealth, you will find that it has been proven since 2000 by Georgetown Law School and Brookings Economics Institute among others that the world’s largest organisations no longer have any measures tracking 90% of what futures they compound; : this is very inconvenient, and although the maths for resolving this is available , people like you need to develop some new language if you want to join in reducing globalisation risk; I don’t care too much what the language is, that will emerge if conversations on biggest risks are webbed in very open ways and with curiously good manners, as well as deep human love of context

    a revolutionary point to reflect on -which some of us have been doing for 22 years at death of distance and associated surveys in The Economist and other mass publication places – is that any network’s connections are spinning a future that is exponentially sustaining or destroying -unless you are aware of that, do not bother to have a conversation about any sustainability issue especually in mass media because you will be soundbiting/muddling some linear translation of what you have historically experienced to the compound future risk that is about to kick in; that future of any living system (unlike tangible lifeless product economies) is measurable and mappable by how conflicted all sides are connected through the transparency of the network’s relationships and the true gravity of its declared purpose; where I use the word network you can enter any of the world’s 1000 largest organsiations be these global corporations, national governments, hybrid systems of systems such as what compounds whether a particular global market need (humanly most valued right) like energy or water gets cleaner or dirtier

    whatever good the original intent -did the British Empire originally have a good intent? – the more disconnects, loss of transparencies, the more conflicts that enter into a network over time, the more it corrupts its original human purpose and leaves compound disaster areas that next generations have to pay hugely to repair; what’s globally different today is we are playing this on a global scale, quite capable of causing extinction with no second chance of repair. I am sure your gut knows this even if you have different language for explaining it; as mentioned above Queen Elizabeth’s guts know it

    take the network of everyone who profited from addicting people overlong to petroleuem economics, which in 1984 was forecast as something that needed to be turned round before 2000 if global economics was doing a true job for human sustainability ; if we prolong the compound risks of that petroleum addiction secor for another 10 years without turning it round, there will be no 22nd cnetury; ditto if we prolong for another 10 years, the world’s biggest nations spending ever more of tax on arms

    the fact that Hilary finds this contentious to debate is overtrumped by the belief that any parent has : not discussing such global risks is the most contentious and undemocratic advice of our death-of-distance era! The World is Flat means – like it or not – we and our cultures at every locality are all in each other’s pockets, all in each other’s terror lines; I lost a very good friend in 7/7 and I am not going to be told not to discuss why this is related to faulty global branding, faulty maths of valuing; failure to be transparent and compound transparency across the largest organisations human beings design

  7. Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore:
    What changed in the US with Hurricane Katrina was the feeling that we entering a period of consequences

    consequences are compound exponentials (risks of extinction if we have designed systems that permit conflicts to enter into them from all round the world, instead of audits that detect emerging conflicts in tiem to resolve them and keep the system sustainable globally at every locality)

    what will we need to change for Hilaries and Jans before risk system debates are neither contentious nor too hard for enough people to ask questions in language which connects one persons to anothers but does not separate the idea that:

    a system is always spinning sustainability or destruction,

    and its jolly good mathematically to govern which way our future is tracking; dismallyly neither government nor corporation has truly contextual measures for doing this even though the maths is eradily available

  8. A lot more observations on why we need to web RISK DEBATES at every global and local level we can linkin: have flowed this week

    first there’s the whole inconvenient truth family of risks like global warming according to AL Gore

    an inconvenient truth risk is defined as one to do with globalisation which should we fail to start turning round within the next decade will end the sustainability of us all

    as well as global warming , what else is in that category-
    this is a big risk conversation in istelf – possibilities include:
    failing to achieve the millennium goals that were set for 2015 to end corruption , global systemisation of poverty and wars looks like a candidate for discussion – economists have forecast so since 1984 and Queen Elizabeth’s end of 2005 message echoed this

    at an apparently lower level but one whose compound consequence waste a generation or many, we have “forbidden questions” both the content and who we forbid from asking ; we do a lousy job in education in permitting children to raise questions about their future sustainability and also in valueing leadership – dont you think?

    we (all those separated globalisation professions that now exdtrct profits by deliberately separating their own complex business cases from simply connecting with everyday contextual flows) also compound an ever lousier job around those media (eg the BBC as world’s service) that could be designed to keep the number 1 assumption of econimics true – that the most vital innovation info circulates for free

    as journalists and others who survey socila phenomena agree, we (the first generation to do death-of-distance, flat-world, global technology of a power that dwarf’s even mother nature’s stability) are living through the age of the greatest communications revolution ever to hit humanity. Failure to promote wholly free puiblic media may not be the inconvenient truth that causes the extinction of the human race but as sure as hell will have blocked the global reconciliations we needed h

  9. Chris

    I would support this idea if your aim was to educate people about the true risk levels. The danger of your current approach is that you will end up giving the media even more things to get people worried about.

    Our current world is considerably less risky than it was even 100 years ago, yet you would not believe that from the way most people react to issues.

    So, I would not be interested in yet another “Top 100 crises we face” site. I’d be very interested in a “Top 100 big risks that really aren’t”.

  10. I would say that the media needs to debate : the current world is less risky. Over and over. I think the truth is that on many small things this statement is true if you live in a rcich country. It’s not true on certain compound exponential which are unfortunately global in scale and quite capable of causing the extinction of our species within 2 to 3 generations.

    What scares me is lack of openness in information. All the sustainbility risks can be resolved if we urgently share information and discuss it over and over. But we don’t have that transparency available in any country I know of. And that risk is unacceptable because this is our 23rd year of tracking its consequences on sustainability. Back in 1984 and now we confirm Al Gore’s deadline: around 2015 any non-sustainable dynmaics of globalisation whether they be climactic or poverty’s wars will spin irreversibly out of reach of our reconciliation unless we start acting now. http://normanmacrae.blogspot.com