Climate Change
Early Warning & Risk Analysis
Global Issues
Lauren Anderson, IISD
Amazon, deforestation, logging, rainforest, timber
© Guentermanaus/Shutterstock.com

For the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental. They are: extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, major natural disasters, major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and human-made environmental damage and disasters.

The Global Risks Report 2020 has been published in advance of the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). According to a press release by the WEF, “for the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental.” The Global Risks Report informs the WEF’s multi-stakeholder initiatives throughout the year.

The report derives from the results of an annual ‘Global Risks Perception Survey’ that is sent to approximately 800 members of the WEF community. Respondents are asked to assess: (1) the likelihood of a global risk occurring over the course of the next decade, and (2) the severity of its impact at a global level if it were to occur.

The report frames the global economy as facing increased risk of stagnation, rapid climate change, a “fragmented cyberspace that threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies,” and global protests against political and economic conditions and systems that worsen inequality.  

The top five risks by likelihood over the next 10 years include: extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.); failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; major natural disasters (e.g. earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, geomagnetic storms); major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; and human-made environmental damage and disasters.

The top five risks by severity of impact over the next decade are: failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; weapons of mass destruction; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; extreme weather events (e.g. floods, storms, etc.); and water crises.

Respondents also assessed the interconnections between pairs of global risks. The topmost strongly connected global risks include: extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; large-scale cyberattacks and the breakdown of critical information infrastructure and networks; high structural unemployment or underemployment and adverse consequences of technological advances; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; and food crises and extreme weather events.

The World Economic Forum will convene from 21-24 January in Davos, Switzerland under the theme, ‘A Cohesive and Sustainable World.’ The meeting aims to “shape global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of each year.” The Four global issues that will feature prominently on the agenda include environmental challenges, sustainable business; technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution; and demographic, social and technological trends reshaping education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Source:
IISD

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