Climate action failure and loss of biodiversity consolidate their position among the highest risks of the next decade

Global risks map 2021. Source: World Economic Forum

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The 16th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report highlights that the highest likelihood risks of the next ten years are extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage; as well as digital power concentration, digital inequality and cybersecurity failure. Among the highest impact risks of the next decade, infectious diseases are in the top spot, followed by climate action failure and other environmental risks, as well as weapons of mass destruction, livelihood crises, debt crises and IT infrastructure breakdown. 


When it comes to the time-horizon within which these risks will become a critical threat to the world, the most imminent threats – those that are most likely in the next two years – include employment and livelihood crises, widespread youth disillusionment, digital inequality, economic stagnation, human-made environmental damage, erosion of societal cohesion, and terrorist attacks. 


Economic risks feature prominently in the 3–5-year timeframe, including asset bubbles, price instability, commodity shocks and debt crises; followed by geopolitical risks, including interstate relations and conflict, and resource geopolitization. In the 5–10-year horizon, environmental risks such as biodiversity loss, natural resource crises and climate action failure dominate; alongside weapons of mass destruction, adverse effects of technology and collapse of states or multilateral institutions. 

In the global risk map, climate action failure and the loss of biodiversity remain among the highest likelihood and impact risks of the next ten years, along with infectious diseases. Four of the five highest likelihood risks of the next decade identified are related to the environment.

Three of the five highest impact risks are related to the environment:

Read on at WEF

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