Over the next ten years, climate change and its consequences will pose the greatest risk to the world. That’s according to more than 1,000 leaders from academia, business and politics, who were asked to evaluate 32 global risks over a two-year and a 10-year horizon for the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Perception Survey.
While the experts consider the cost-of-living crisis (i.e. inflation) the most pressing issue over the next two years, they don’t expect rising prices to pose a major threat 10 years from now, when the four most severe risks faced by the world are all predicted to be related to climate change. The following chart nicely illustrates the difference between what experts consider short-term risks and which challenges will shape the world for years or even decades to come.
The 18th edition of the WEF’s Global Risks Report focusses on the risk of a potential “polycrisis”, which is a cluster of interdependent global risks with compounding effects. Extreme climate events or geopolitical crises such as the war in Ukraine can for example lead to food, water or energy supply crises, which can in turn have massive ripple effects and eventually lead to political upheaval, social unrest and even mass migration.
"The world's collective focus is being channeled into the “survival” of today’s crises: cost of living, social and political polarization, food and energy supplies, tepid growth, and geopolitical confrontation, among others," Saadia Zahidi, managing director at the World Economic Forum finds, warning that “much-needed attention and resources are being diverted from newly emerging or rapidly accelerating risks to natural ecosystems, human health, security, digital rights and economic stability that could become crises and catastrophes in the next decade.”