Cybersecurity, unemployment, failure of national governance and energy price shocks rank among the top risks that worry global executives most about doing business around the world – though the main worries vary by region. This is according to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) based on surveys of more than 12,000 executives in 140 countries this year. 

Concerns cited in the new Regional Risks for Doing Business report range from economic to political, societal and technological, and significant differences in risk perceptions were found across the eight world regions covered. Cyber-attacks ranked as the top risk in three of the eight regions covered: Europe, east Asia and the Pacific, and North America. 


“Cyber-attacks are seen as the number one risk for doing business in markets that account for 50% of global GDP. This strongly suggests that governments and businesses need to strengthen cyber security and resilience in order to maintain confidence in a highly connected digital economy,” said Lori Bailey, global head of cyber risk, Zurich Insurance Group, and a member of the WEF’s Global Future Council on Cybersecurity.

Meanwhile, failure of national governance ranked number one in Latin America and south Asia, “highlighting the costs of political strains that have been evident in much of the world in recent years”, according to a released statement from the WEF. In the energy-rich regions of Eurasia and Middle East and north Africa, energy price shocks were ranked as the top risk to doing business, while unemployment was perceived as the top risk for doing business in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Cyber-attacks are increasing in prominence, but it is striking how many business leaders point to unemployment and national governance as the most pressing risks for doing business in their countries,” said Aengus Collins, head of global risks and the geopolitical agenda at WEF.

This new report builds on data from the WEF’s annual Executive Opinion Survey.