Ten Problems for Safety in the 2020s

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Literature Review: Safety Problems for the 2020s

The global economy is faced with a “synchronized slowdown”, the past five years have been the warmest on record, and cyberattacks are expected to increase in 2020, all while citizens protest the political and economic conditions in their countries and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality. Indeed, the growing palpability of shared economic, environmental and societal risks signals that the horizon has shortened for preventing or even mitigating some of the direst consequences of global risks. It is sobering that in the face of this development, when the challenges before us demand immediate collective action, fractures within the global community appear to only be widening [1].

Learning from incidents (LFI) is an organizational learning process whereby accidents or near- misses are used to stimulate learning in order to prevent similar events in the future. Prior research has demonstrated that an important step in LFI is the distribution of incident summaries to enable individuals, teams, networks and organizations to learn. These summaries should in theory support vicarious learning for those not directly involved in the original event. This thesis investigates the following major gaps in LFI literature: the role of networks in LFI, what practitioners perceive to be successful learning in the context of LFI, beneficial practices in LFI, and current barriers that prevent successful LFI [2].

A generally recognized trend of civilizational development at the present stage is a significant increase in socio-economic losses from various hazards, which are based on natural and anthropogenic processes. Most of the hazards are natural and man-made, and the increasing vulnerability of society to hazards is determined by socio-economic factors. The constant presence of natural and man-made hazards in the processes of social development allows us to assert their systematic nature and the need to take them into account when predicting social development [3]. The interdependence of natural and man-made security factors is now confirmed at a fundamental level.

This book provides an overview of the 12 global grand challenges (GGC), including their current status, examples of key technological solutions impacting the challenge, examples of promising solutions, and a link to a companion website offering resources for further learning on each GGC [4]. In addressing each GGC, we encourage our community to solve from three perspectives: ensuring basic needs are met for all people; sustaining and improving quality of life; and mitigating future risks. In addition, we remind our community that the challenges are deeply connected, interrelated, and interdependent and we must not accidentally create new problems in our efforts to solve current problems.

Some events, like oil shocks, have clear and well-defined implications. Other events change the rules and force a rethink of everything. COVID-19 is a rule changing event. Disruption has come to mean new tech building new companies and destroying old ones, but events like COVID-19 can also drive new business models and destroy old ones. Navigating the business and investing landscape post-COVID-19 will require understanding the complex and shifting currents of changes that COVID-19 has set off. The temptation to try to simplify that complex morass into something more easily explained is almost irresistible [5].

Starting from such general references, this booklet identifies ten relevant areas from very recent contributions put forward at academic level in the form journal articles, conference proceedings and students’ theses. Ten freely accessible internet references have been selected for each area and direct links are provided at the end of each chapter for own consultation. Our selected references do not intend to mirror ranking indexes nor establish novel classifications. On the contrary, they are meant to represent peer-reviewed, diverse and scientifically-sound case studies for vertical dissemination aimed at non-specialist readers. They will also be able to scoop even more references through the bibliography that is reported at the end of each selected reference.

Without further ado, these are the “Ten Problems for Safety in the 2020s” that we are going to introduce in this booklet:

  1. machines,
  2. internet,
  3. pandemics,
  4. resources,
  5. financial,
  6. borders,
  7. terrorism,
  8. infrastructures,
  9. disasters,
  10. food.

Each problem has its own dedicated chapter made of an introductory section, a short presentation of the ten selected references and a conclusions section.

The final chapter of this booklet will report the conclusions from each chapter again in order to provide a complete executive summary.


[1] World Economic Forum, “The Global Risks Report 2020”, 2020 Jan 15, World Economic Forum, Insight Report 15th Edition, In partnership with Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, online at

[2] V.L. Murphy, “Learning From Incidents And Implementing Action: Exploring Expectations And Contradictions In The Energy Sector”, 2020, PhD thesis, The Open University, United Kingdom, online at

[3] A.V. Kofal et al., “Regulation of formalization of technosphere safety”, 2019, Matters of Russian and International Law, Vol. 9, Is. 10A, online at

[4] M. Richter et al., “The State of the Global Grand Challenges: 2019”, 2019, Singularity University, online at

[5] S. Strongin et al., “The Great Reset – A Framework for Investing After COVID-19”, 2020 May 27, Goldman Sachs, online at

“Ten Problems for Safety in the 2020s” booklet for Amazon Kindle, 2020; click on the cover to go to the dedicated Amazon listing page Safety Problems