Living Dangerously: How Can We Get Real About Risk?

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Jun 19, 2019
by Martin Silva Rey
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Living Dangerously: How Can We Get Real About Risk?

Upcoming Board of Directors Weekend convenes experts and leaders from around the world to discuss the potential of risk as an asset for governments and businesses Improved foresight, delivery and innovation lie at Salzburg Global's commitment to transform systems

Risks are staring us in the face as the planet warms and societies crack. Never has so much ingenuity and data been available to drive human progress, yet trust in governments and business has plunged. People have "had enough of experts,” and schoolkids have taken to the streets demanding politicians take action on climate change. Is the attention economy drowning out existential threats? How can leaders get real on risk?

Futures are getting harder to predict as climate, decolonization, and techno-colonization collide. Established rules and systems are under the spotlight as economic and environmental stresses interact with geopolitical and demographic shifts and cyber-insecurity. Young people are growing up in the VUCA era—an era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

Worrying about the present and future is hardly new. W.H. Auden’s The Age of Anxiety appeared in 1947 when Salzburg Global Seminar was founded, and J.K. Galbraith’s The Age of Uncertainty followed in 1977. For many, however, 21st Century challenges are qualitatively different. Evidence from social psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience shows how often human decisions are made with little regard for facts. In a digital world, partisan and populist voices shout down informed debate. Many media play up risk and lower the sense of agency. Globally, depression is a leading cause of illness and disability among adolescents.

The first quarter of the 21st century is just around the corner, and the world picture these lines depict urges us to discuss—how can we get real about risk?

From June 21-23, Schloss Leopoldskron, the historic home of Salzburg Global Seminar, will bring together the nonprofit’s Board of Directors, as well as distinguished international guests. The stimulating events intend to explore the future and expand horizons amid an inspiring mountain setting in Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg.

James Comey, former director of the FBI between 2013-2017, will add his insight to the discussion as this year’s Salzburg Global Lecturer. Appointed to the post by the then president of the United States Barack Obama, his tenure was tested by new forces within and outside the country’s borders—he confronted foreign intelligence operations, mass shootings, the surge of ISIS, and controversy over police shootings, among others. Inside the FBI, while navigating government shutdowns, he tried to change how the FBI approached leadership, diversity, and cyber threats.

How can we shift the lens on risk and take advantage of exponential leaps in technology? How can we recalibrate decision-making in governments, boardrooms, and enterprise? How can we restore play and the joy of risk in education? These questions and more will be addressed during the annual gathering.  

Victoria Mars, chairman of Salzburg Global’s Board of Directors, will welcome the guests to a gala weekend that will merge exquisite cuisine, uplifting music, and scenic landscapes, as well as Salzburg Global Seminar’s long-standing commitment to innovate and shape a better world. 

Highlights from this year's Board of Directors Weekend will be uploaded to SalzburgGlobal.org. Highlights will also be shared on social media. Keep up to date on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #SGSjune.