The Global Challenges Foundation was founded in 2012 by Swedish financial analyst and author Laszlo Szombatfalvy. The Foundation’s aim is to contribute to reducing the main global problems and risks that threaten humanity.
The world has changed dramatically during the past century. In many ways, the change has been for the better. In most countries, the average level of standard of living has improved, as has life expectancy. Moreover, technological breakthroughs have made society global, both economically and culturally.
But there is an obvious downside to this fundamentally positive trend. Some problems have grown larger, and new risks that threaten humanity have emerged. The most dramatic change may be that mankind is capable, for the first time in history, of seriously damaging the very ecosystem that we are all completely dependent on – and, in fact, is well on its way to do so.
The most important underlying factor is that the Earth’s population has quadrupled during the last century, particularly in a number of poor countries. One consequence of this population explosion, which has occurred simultaneously with a great rise in standard of living in many countries, is a significant increase in the use of energy and other natural resources. This, in turn, has caused extensive large-scale environmental damage, including climate change.
The Global Challenges Foundation, together with leading researchers, has identified a number of risks that could threaten the existence of at least a tenth of Earth’s population. Such risks are referred to as global catastrophic risks. A description of these risks and the latest research on them can be found in the Global Challenges Foundation’s Annual Risk Reports.
In November 2016, the Global Challenges Foundation invited thinkers from all over the world to send in proposals on how to address global challenges more effectively and equitably than has been done up until now. The Foundation decided to focus on the five greatest and most urgent risks.
These five main challenges are interdependent and influence each other detrimentally. This means that immediate joint action by the world’s states is an absolute necessity. As these risks include the greatest threats to humanity, they should be on top of the international political agenda in order to ensure safety for existing and future generations.
This is not the case today. The global system that was created to address global problems – in particular, the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies – is not equipped to handle large global problems in an effective and equitable manner. The actions that have been taken and decided upon so far to address the largest risks have been inadequate. The risks and challenges remain, and in many cases have even increased, despite having been known for decades. There are two main reasons for this:
The Global Challenges Foundation works along two parallel pathways to decrease the greatest global risks and problems facing humanity:
1. Increasing knowledge and raising awareness of the greatest global risks and problems among policy makers, thought leaders, and the general public.
2. Stimulating debate and thought around new, better and more equitable models for how to manage the greatest global threats and challenges more effectively and equitably.
Since its inception in 2012, the Global Challenges Foundation has initiated and supported a number of projects that are aligned with the goals of the Foundation. The following are some of the larger ongoing projects:
Read more. To read a more thorough presentation and discussion of global challenges and risks, go to the page “Our approach”. You can also download Laszlo Szombatfalvy’s book The Greatest Challenges of Our Time, first published in 2010. A majority of the reports and surveys issued or commissioned by the Global Challenges Foundation can also be downloaded from the Foundation’s web site.