Environmental risks dominate growing global concerns

Over 340 top political leaders to meet in Davos
These Are the Biggest Risks for Businesses in 2018, According to the World Economic Forum
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21 January, 2018

The WEF, which describes itself as an global organisation for public-private cooperation and hosts over 3,000 world leaders from politics, business and civil society every year in Swiss ski resort town Davos for an annual talkfest, said structural and interconnected nature of risks in 2018 threaten the very system on which societies, economies and worldwide relations are based. The survey of 1,000 experts found nearly 59 percent think the world faces mounting risks, while only 7 percent believed risks were lessening.

Some 59% of respondents to the WEF survey said they expect risks to intensify this year, compared with 7% that predict a decline, while 93% believe confrontations between countries will worsen, and 80% are more concerned about conflicts. According to 40%, this risk will increase drastically.

The risk of political and economic confrontations between major powers, including outright military conflicts, has risen sharply, according to a survey released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) days before its annual gathering in Davos.

As the Swiss ski resort of Davos gears up to receive the leaders of the free world (and Donald Trump) for the World Economic Forum (WEF), one group is gearing up for its most stressful week of the year: air traffic controllers.

"Global risks, nowadays, are so interconnected that they can threaten the very systems on which our societies, economies, and worldwide relations are based", said Alison Martin, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, which contributed to the report, at a London news conference. Economic issues are said to be less of a pressing concern than environmental factors, although this doesn't mean that there's any room for complacency. That includes natural disasters and extreme weather events that human-caused climate change may be abetting.

WEF says the GRPS has shown that environmental risks have grown in prominence in recent years, and the trend continued in the most recent survey, with all five risks in the environmental category being ranked higher than average for both likelihood and impact over a 10-year horizon.

"A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunity that we can not afford to squander, to tackle the fractures that we have allowed to weaken the world's institutions, societies and environment", Schwab said in a statement.

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'Another growing trend is the use of cyberattacks to target critical infrastructure and strategic industrial sectors, raising fears that, in a worst-case scenario, attackers could trigger a breakdown in the systems that keep societies functioning, ' it added.

"This generation enjoys unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources", but is "the first generation to take the world to the brink of a systems breakdown", Schwab wrote.

At the same time, companies' cyber exposure is growing.

"While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts if we are to prevent the same bulging "protection" gap between economic and insured losses that we see for natural catastrophes".

"Environmental risks, together with a growing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the foundation of most of our commons", says Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer at Zurich Insurance Group and member of the steering board of the Global Risks Report. "It's not yet too late to shape a more resilient tomorrow, but we need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid a potential system collapse".

Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation: The risk that governments and businesses will fail to take action against the impact of climate change is a real risk in 2018, the WEF said, citing President Trump's decision a year ago to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement as an example.


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