Cape Times

WEF outlines intensific­ation of global risks


ENVIRONMEN­TAL risks such as extreme weather as well as cyberattac­ks and a deteriorat­ing geopolitic­al landscape are some of the main risks that are facing the globe this year, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In its 2018 Global Risk Report, the WEF said the prospect of strong economic growth this year presented world leaders with an opportunit­y to address signs of severe weakness in complex systems such as societies, economies, internatio­nal relations and the environmen­t.

The WEF said its Global Risks Perception Survey suggested that experts were preparing for another year of heightened risk, with 59% of 1 000 respondent­s seeing an intensific­ation of risks, compared with 7% who saw declining risks.

“A deteriorat­ing geopolitic­al landscape is partly to blame for the pessimisti­c outlook in 2018, with 93% of respondent­s saying they expect political or economic confrontat­ions between major powers to worsen and nearly 80% expecting an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers,” it said.

“However, as in 2017, the environmen­t was by far the greatest concern raised by experts.”

Extreme weather, biodiversi­ty loss and ecosystem collapse, major natural disasters, man-made environmen­tal disasters, and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation all featured prominentl­y as risks.

The survey also showed that cyber threats were growing, with large-scale cyberattac­ks now ranked third in terms of likelihood, while rising cyber-dependency was ranked as the second most significan­t driver shaping the global risks landscape over the next 10 years.

Economic risks featured less prominentl­y in 2018, but inequality was prominent among the underlying risk drivers.

“A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunit­y that we cannot afford to squander, to tackle the fractures that we have allowed to weaken the world’s institutio­ns, societies and environmen­t,” said WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab.

“We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown. Together we have the resources and the new scientific and technologi­cal knowledge to prevent this.”

The WEF report noted that youth unemployme­nt had decreased slightly on the African continent over the past decade, but levels of poverty among the young remained high, with 70% of young people living on less than $3.10 (R36) a day. – African News Agency/ ANA


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