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  • Writer's pictureFiona Smith

The 2020 WEF Global Risks Report shows top 5 global threats are all climate-related

The top five long-term global risks are now all major threats to our environment - with “economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarisation" significant short-term risks, according to the findings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020.

More than 750 global experts and decision-makers were asked to rank their biggest concerns in terms of likelihood and impact, with the top five long-term global risks cited as being climate-related for the first time in the report's 10-year history.

The top WEF takeaways? Risk perception has shifted from economy to climate. Greater knowledge and experience of climate change has prompted the shift. However, 'short-termism' may create blind spots and limit integrated efforts to mitigate risk.

Meanwhile, 78 per cent of respondents are expecting an increase in "economic confrontations" in 2020, with political polarisation a close second. This is followed by weather extremes and destruction of natural ecosystems as a huge factor coming up this year.

Overall, the report warns on:

  • Extreme weather events with major damage to property, infrastructure and loss of human life

  • Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation by governments and businesses.

  • Human-made environmental damage and disasters, including environmental crime, such as oil spills, and radioactive contamination.

  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (terrestrial or marine) with irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.

  • Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms.

This year's report also includes a new section on the 'undervaluation of nature-related risks in business decision-making.'

President of the World Economic Forum, Borge Brende, said: “The political landscape is polarised, sea levels are rising and climate fires are burning. This is the year when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks."

Read the full report here.

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