Underscoring economics experts' concern about the rapid rate of change in the natural world, for the second year, the environment has been ranked as the most urgent global risk in the World Economic Forum's Annual Risk Perception Survey (GRPS). .
The 2018 GPRS considered the five environmental risk factors, extreme weather, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem collapse, major natural disasters, man-made environmental disasters, and the failure of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, as in 2017 all occupied a prominent place, both in terms of its probability and impact over a 10-year horizon.
British environmental news website BusinessGreen reports that the annual survey, released ahead of next week's Davos Summit, questioned nearly 1,000 risk management experts on the threats the planet will face in 2018.
Out of the 30 risks, extreme weather stood out as the most significant threat facing the world in terms of probability.
It was followed by natural disasters, cyberattacks, fraud or data theft, and failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
"Extreme weather events were again ranked as one of the top global risks by probability and impact," warned Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group.
“Environmental risks, along with increasing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the base of most of our common resources.
"Unfortunately, we are currently seeing a 'too little late' response from governments and organizations to key trends, such as climate change."
Meanwhile, the majority of experts surveyed reported an increase in all risks this year, with 59% pointing to an escalation of risks, compared to just 7% reporting decreasing risks.
Part of the growing concern about global risks is due to the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of our global systems, the WEF said, where "sudden and dramatic breakdowns, future shocks, are more likely."
Such “future shocks” could include the simultaneous collapse of food supply chains around the world, or AI-piloted drone ships decimating global fish stocks.
"When risk cascades through a complex system, the danger is not incremental damage but rather a 'crash out of control' or an abrupt transition to a new, suboptimal status quo," the WEF warned.
In addition to the pressing dangers of changes in the world's climate and natural systems, risk experts also reported a rise in geopolitical concerns: 93% said they expect political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen and almost 80% expect an increased risk associated with war between global powers.
"This is perhaps the first generation to bring the world to the brink of a systems failure," said WEF founder and president Professor Klaus Schwab in the report's preface.
"There are many signs of progress and many reasons for hope, but we still lack the necessary momentum and depth of collaboration to achieve change on the required scale."
The news comes after a year in which environmental disasters have dominated world headlines.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused widespread destruction in the United States and the Caribbean, while massive floods devastated much of India and Africa.
As a result, 2017 is likely to be the most expensive year on record for insurers.
However, experts argued that the relative strength of the global economy, the economic risks featured less prominently in this year's survey compared to previous years, offered world leaders a "golden opportunity" to focus on addressing risks. systemic and environmental factors facing the world.
BusinessGreen notes that the report highlights the extent to which environmental risks have triggered the general agenda in the last decade.
However, the growing concern about environmental hazards is a double-edged sword.
Not only does it reflect the acceptance of climate risks in the main discussion, but the growing threat it poses is running out of time to address the problem before hopes of limiting temperature increases to below two degrees Celsius are dashed.
"It is not yet too late to shape a more resilient future, but we need to act with a greater sense of urgency to avoid a possible collapse of the system," urged Ms Martin.
Original article (in English)