Weapons of mass destruction and climate change top list of global worries
18 January, 2018, 13:42
Drzik said recent high-profile security breaches that have fueled this perception include the WannaCry ransomware attack, which infected more than 300,000 computers across 150 countries, and NotPetya, which caused two companies losses in excess of $300 million.
As in 2017, the environment dominates the list of risks, with extreme weather, ecosystem collapse, man-made environmental disasters, and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, all ranked highly.
Alongside the pressing dangers of changes to the world's climate and natural systems, risk experts also reported a surge in geopolitical concerns, with 93 per cent saying they expect political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen and nearly 80 per cent expecting an increase in risk associated with war between global powers.
The report notes that a global economic rebound can help solve some problems, but it also pointed to increasingly complex challenges.
Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, head of the forum's Economic Progress Initiatives, said at the press conference 59% of survey respondents said they thought risks in general will increase in 2018. "At the same time cyber exposure is growing as firms are becoming more dependent on technology".
As in 2017, the environment was by far the greatest concern raised by experts. He said cyber was relatively under resourced in risk management.
The WEF sees economies around the world "finally getting back on track" ten years after the 2008 financial crisis, although it still worries about "unsustainable asset prices, with the world now eight years into a bull run; elevated indebtedness, particularly in China, and continuing strains in the global financial system".
The majority of leaders in the business world said they believe risks would intensify in the year ahead.
"Attacks are increasing, both in prevalence and disruptive potential".
A WEF spokesman said: "When we asked almost 1,000 respondents for their views about the trajectory of risks in 2018, 59 percent of their answers pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with 7 percent pointing to declining risks".
Themed "Creating a shared future in a fractured world", the 2018 WEF meet will focus on worldwide cooperation on critical shared interests, such as worldwide security, environment, the global economy and divisions within societies. Extreme weather events were seen as the single most prominent risk.
The report also warned that nation-state unilateralism may make it more hard to sustain the long-term, multilateral responses that are required to counter the degradation of the global environment.
WEF founder Klaus Schwab, in the report's preface, didn't address this criticism head-on, but said the forum aims to support change for the better of humanity by encouraging cooperation between governments and the private and charitable sectors.
"Together we have the resources and the new scientific and technological knowledge to prevent this".