The five biggest long-term concerns of global experts and decision makers are all environmental based, the World Economic Forum's (WEF) new report revealed Wednesday urging policymakers and business leaders to take immediate action.
WEF's Global Risks Report 2020 published the results of questions asked to over 750 global experts and decision makers in ranking their biggest concerns in terms of likelihood and impact.
Severe climate threats account for all of the report's top long-term risks. In addition, "economic confrontations" and "domestic political" concerns were recognized as significant short-term risks in 2020.
According to the report, 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 ranked as the top five likely global risks to occur over the next 10 years.
For the first time in the survey’s 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental marking the severity of the climate crisis.
In response to questions of the top five risks by the severity of impact over the next ten years at a global level if it were to occur, respondents named failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, weapons of mass destruction, major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, extreme weather events and water crises.
The report highlights the need for policymakers to match targets for protecting the earth with ones for boosting economies, and for companies to avoid the risks of potentially disastrous future losses by adjusting to science-based targets.
- Biologically diverse ecosystems generate $33 trillion in economic benefit
WEF's President Borge Brende said in light of the polarized political landscape, rising sea levels and fires induced by climate change, there is a need for world leaders to work with all sectors of society in 2020 to repair and reinvigorate the systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefits, but also for tackling deep-rooted risks.
Chairman John Drzik of Marsh & McLennan Insights, the world's leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, looked to the younger generations as he said they believe that the impact from environmental risks by 2030 will be more catastrophic and more likely.
"To younger generations, the state of the planet is even more alarming," he said.
Peter Giger, group chief risk officer of Zurich Insurance Group warned of the urgent need to adapt faster to avoid the worst and irreversible impacts of climate change.
"Biologically diverse ecosystems capture vast amounts of carbon and provide massive economic benefits that are estimated at $33 trillion per year – the equivalent to the GDP of the U.S. and China combined," he said, adding that it is critical that companies and policymakers move faster to transition to a low-carbon economy and more sustainable business models.
The WEF, which is committed to improving the state of the world, is the international organization for public-private cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
The Global Risks Report, prepared in collaboration with its Strategic Partners Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, is part of the WEF's Global Risks Initiative which brings stakeholders together to develop sustainable, integrated solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
By Firdevs Yuksel & Nuran Erkul Kaya