The report highlights that the war in Ukraine disrupted COVID-19 recovery and ushered in “a fresh series of crises in food and energy – triggering problems that decades of progress had sought to solve”.
The report analyzes the “mounting impact” of current crises, identifies key risks that are likely to be most severe in the long term, and explores how linkages among the emerging risks may evolve into a “polycrisis” fueled by natural resource shortages by 2030.
According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report 2023, failure to respond to climate change and biodiversity loss are among the top five most severe risks facing the world in the long term. In addition to climate concerns, the top five short-term risks include geoeconomic confrontation and societal polarization, with the cost-of-living crisis topping the list.
The report derives from the results of an annual ‘Global Risks Perception Survey,’ which brings together insights on the evolving global risks landscape from more than 1,200 experts from academia, business, government, the international community, and civil society.
For the 2023 report, respondents were asked to: predict global volatility; describe the likely impact of global risks over a one-, two- and ten-year horizon; assess relationships between global risks and the potential for compounding crises; assess risk preparedness and governance; and identify new and emerging risks.
The WEF’s ‘Executive Opinion Survey’ complements these data by identifying “risks that pose the most severe threat to each country over the next two years, as identified by over 12,000 business leaders in 121 economies.”
The 18th edition of the report titled, ‘The Global Risks Report 2023,’ highlights that the war in Ukraine disrupted COVID-19 recovery and ushered in “a fresh series of crises in food and energy – triggering problems that decades of progress had sought to solve.” The report analyzes the “mounting impact” of current crises, identifies key risks that are likely to be most severe in the long term, and explores how linkages among the emerging risks may evolve into a “polycrisis” fueled by natural resource shortages by 2030.
According to the report, the most imminent threats (those likely to be most severe in the next two years) are: the cost-of-living crisis; natural disasters and extreme weather events; geoeconomic confrontation; failure to mitigate climate change; erosion of social cohesion and societal polarization; large-scale environmental damage incidents; failure of climate change adaptation; widespread cybercrime and cyber insecurity; natural resource crises; and large-scale involuntary migration.
Among the ten most severe threats of the next decade, the report identifies: failure to mitigate climate change; failure of climate change adaptation; natural disasters and extreme weather events; biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; large-scale involuntary migration; natural resource crises; erosion of social cohesion and societal polarization; widespread cybercrime and cyber insecurity; geoeconomic confrontation; and large-scale environmental damage incidents.
Based on these findings, the report’s main messages are:
- Cost of living dominates global risks in the next two years while climate action failure dominates the next decade;
- As an economic era ends, the next will bring more risks of stagnation, divergence and distress;
- Geopolitical fragmentation will drive geoeconomic warfare and heighten the risk of multi-domain conflicts;
- Technology will exacerbate inequalities while risks from cybersecurity will remain a constant concern;
- Climate mitigation and climate adaptation efforts are set up for a risky trade-off while nature collapses;
- Food, fuel, and cost crises exacerbate societal vulnerabilities while declining investments in human development erode future resilience; and
- As volatility in multiple domains grows in parallel, the risk of polycrises accelerates.
The report was published on 11 January, ahead of the WEF’s Annual Meeting 2023. [Publication: The Global Risks Report 2023] [Main Findings] [Publication Landing Page] [WEF Story on Biggest Risks]