Global Challenges Foundation

April 18, 2019 Scott Fletcher Bowlsby
April 18, 2019 Katie Patterson
April 17, 2019 Katie Patterson

The Global Challenges Foundation’s (GCF) objective is to contribute to minimizing, preferably eliminating, the major global threats to humanity. The organization compiles research and invests in forward thinking projects to have an impact worldwide.

Mission and Purpose

The Global Challenges Foundation’s (GCF) objective is to contribute to minimizing, preferably eliminating, the major global threats to humanity. To achieve this, the GCF works in two ways: by increasing decision-makers’ and the public’s knowledge and insight about these challenges; and by stimulating discussion and innovative thinking about decision systems that would be able to manage the major global risks more effectively and equitably [1]. 

The GCF has identified, what they have termed, five interdependent, global catastrophic risks: climate change, other large-scale environmental damage, politically motivated violence, extreme poverty, and population growth [2]. The organization has also identified two major barriers to addressing these problems. First, the scope has been underestimated due to inadequate understanding and problem analysis. Further, the international political system has not properly adapted to the global environment of today [2].

Origins and Development

The GCF was founded by Laszlo Szombatfalvy in 2012 to address some of the largest problems facing our quickly changing and growing world. As the standard of living improves, so has life expectancy and with technological advances society has globalized, both economically and culturally [2]. While there are many benefits with these developments, there are also new, unique, and growing problems and risks. The GCF set out to research and identify some of the largest risks threatening the global population. The foundation is young and continually implementing new, unique methods for addressing these issues. See the sections below for how they disseminate their findings and what projects they have invested in. 

Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding

The GCF is organized with a fairly traditional corporate, organizational structure made up of a board, executive team, and secretariat. Founder, Laszlo Szombatfalvy, serves as the chairman of the board along with 7 other board members [1]. The secretariat is made up of 15 employees with Fredrik Karlsson leading the team as Executive Director [1]. The executive team is a cross section of leaders from the board and the secretariat [1]. These groups work together to compile research and data to determine goals and projects for the organization. Participants vary based on project, more information can be found below for how the organization recruits through third party partnerships for events, research funding awards, and surveys.  

The majority of funding comes from donations made by Szombatfalvy as the founder of the organization. The funds are put toward a variety of research initiatives completed by the GCF, as well as, in the form of grants designated to other qualified groups [1]. See the major projects and events section for more information on the ways funding is managed and dispersed by the foundation.  

Specializations, Methods and Tools

The GCF does continual research to determine the global catastrophic risks and analyze what is being done and should be done in the future to address these risks more effectively. Their global reach finds partnerships with governments and institutions around the world. They provide annual and quarterly reports with their findings. To see individual reports, follow the links in publications below. 

The GCF conducts risk surveys with respondents from around the world¾through partnerships with local market research and survey companies¾to determine people’s attitudes toward global catastrophic risks and governance [1]. These surveys help to determine the extent to which global attitudes reflect the severity of the risks to help the GCF better identify gaps in understanding, global needs, and impacts of current initiatives. To date, these surveys have been conducted in 2014, 2017, and 2018, to access the surveys use the links below. 




Major Projects and Events

The New Shape Process

The New Shape Prize was an open call from the GCF to find new models of global cooperation to address the rising global risks the GCF has identified. The submission closed in September 2017 and received over 2,702 entries from 122 countries. The submissions were discussed during the New Shape Forum and the top three finalists were each awarded $600,000 toward their work [1]. 

The New Shape Forum brought together policy-makers, academics, and others in global governance for workshops and discussions that examine the future of global governance. The forum looked at ideas from the New Shape Prize to improve upon and explore the viability of these proposals to make a difference. Each of the top ideas was presented and followed up with workshops for further exploration [1]. For more information about the top projects follow the links below:

The 5 selected projects: 

Library of submissions: 

Alternate articles:; 

The Educators’ Challenges

The Educators’ Challenge is a call similar to the New Shape Process that will award funding to ideas that focus specifically on finding ways to better engage students and broader audiences with discussions about the future and importance of global governance [1]. 

Global Challenges at the Stockholm School of Economics

This partnership with the school of economics added curriculum programs that study global risks [3]. The goal of this partnership is to give future leaders fundamental insights into these threats to understand how to create better collaboration with economic development to alleviate these risks. This program is planned for a minimum of ten years, starting in 2016 to include approximately 3,000 students [1].

Earth Statement

The GCF has partnered with the Earth League to create the Earth Statement to address the current state of climate change [4]. The statement provides a list of 8 essential elements toward climate action that world leaders can help to address. The Earth League is still in the process of fully analyzing and making a final statement on the matter [1, 4]. 

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!


The GCF releases many updates, media links, and press releases which can be found at the following links. Further, each annual and quarterly report and survey is linked.

· Risk surveys:

· Annual reports: 

· Quarterly reports: 

· Updates: 

· In the media: 

· Press releases: 

See Also


[1] Global Challenges Foundation:

[2] Global Challenges Foundation, “Introduction and Overview,” Global Challenges Foundation, 2018, retrieved from

[3] Stockholm School of Economics, “Global Challenges for the Makers of the Future,” retrieved from

[4] The Earth League:

External Links 


Lead image: Global Challenges Foundation,