Gloomy outlook for global recovery, World Economic Forum survey finds

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Extreme weather patterns have been identified as the greatest risk to global security. Photo: iStock
Extreme weather patterns have been identified as the greatest risk to global security. Photo: iStock


Only one in 10 World Economic Forum (WEF) members surveyed expects the global recovery to accelerate over the next three years, a poll of nearly 1,000 business, government and academic leaders found, with only one in six optimistic about the world outlook.

The climate crisis was seen as the number one danger by respondents in the WEF’s Global Risks Report on Tuesday, while erosion of social cohesion, livelihood crises and mental health deterioration were identified as risks which had increased the most since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi said:

Global leaders must come together and adopt a coordinated multistakeholder approach to tackle unrelenting global challenges and build resilience ahead of the next crisis.


Extreme weather was considered the world’s biggest risk in the short term, and a failure of climate action in the medium and long term (two to 10 years) as the biggest risk, the survey showed.

Agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November last year was widely applauded for keeping alive prospects of capping global warming at 1.5°C, but many of the nearly 200 nations present had wanted to leave the conference in Glasgow, Scotland, with more.

The climate crisis is seen as contributing to more extreme weather patterns.

READ: Patents and costs stymie Africa’s growth

“Failure to act on climate change could shrink global GDP by one-sixth, and the commitments taken at COP26 are still not enough to achieve the 1.5°C goal,” Peter Giger, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance, which helped to compile the report, said.

The WEF report also highlights four areas of emerging risk – cybersecurity, a disorderly climate transition, migration pressures and competition in space.

The prospect of 70 000 satellite launches in coming decades, in addition to space tourism, raises risks of collisions and increasing debris in space, amid a lack of regulation.

“Who governs space?” asked Carolina Klint, a risk management leader for continental Europe at insurance broker Marsh, which also helped produce the report.

The Global Risks Report is published each year ahead of the annual WEF meeting in Davos, Switzerland. However, the Geneva-based WEF last month postponed the January event until mid-2022 due to the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The report was produced together with Zurich Insurance, Marsh McLennan and South Korea’s SK Group, the universities of Oxford and Pennsylvania, and the National University of Singapore. – Reuters


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