WEF warns of growing array of global risks ahead of Davos meet next week
London, January 14
The global economy faces a worrying array of risks, from natural disasters related to climate change to the rise of the Islamic State group and hacking, according to experts polled by World Economic Forum (WEF), which organises the gathering of political and business leaders in Swiss resort of Davos.
In a bleak assessment published today ahead of next week’s discussions in Davos, the WEF said its survey found that a failure to deal with and prepare for climate change is potentially the most costly risk over the next 10 years. That’s the first time that an environmental concern has topped the list of global risks in the 11 years the organisation has carried out the survey.
“Climate change is exacerbating more risks than ever before in terms of water crises, food shortages, constrained economic growth, weaker social cohesion and increased security risks,” said Cecilia Reyes, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance, which helped develop the annual Global Risks Report.
The survey of almost 750 experts and decision-makers from a variety of fields, locations and ages was conducted in the autumn of 2015 before the global warming targets agreed on in Paris in December.
John Drzik, president of global risk at insurance broker Marsh, which also helped develop the report, conceded that climate change might have been lower down the list — but still high given 2015 was the hottest year on record — if the poll had been conducted after the Paris Agreement. The deal saw nearly 200 countries agree to keep global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit) between now and 2100.
Drzik said the 2016 report has the ‘broadest array’ of risks facing the global economy in the survey’s 11-year history. However, he said the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which saw the collapse of numerous banks around the world and the deepest global recession since World War II, may have seen leaders more concerned about the future.
“Events such as Europe’s refugee crisis and terrorist attacks have raised global political instability to its highest level since the Cold War,” Drzik said.
In its survey, the WEF found that large-scale involuntary migration — not just in Europe but within regions, including the Middle East — was the most likely risk.