Institute for Sustainable Innovation



The main risks of 2020. In the wake of the Davos forum

A new report by the World Economic Forum proves that global risk landscape is changing. In previous years, economic problems were considered the greatest threat to mankind; nowadays, it is considered to be climate disruption and the extremely adverse impact of human on the environment. 

For the first time in the history of the report, all Global Risks in Terms of Likelihood are environmental ones. According to the report, the most urgent risks are extreme weather, human-made environmental disasters, biodiversity loss, natural disasters, and climate action failure. In these conditions collaboration between world leaders, enterprises and politicians is necessary to prevent serious threats to the climate, the environment, health systems and technologies. 

This year more than 750 experts and decision makers were interviewed. They were asked to evaluate the biggest concerns in terms of their likelihood and impact. 78% of respondents said that “economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarization” will increase in 2020. This will have a dramatic effect, especially for solving top rated issues such as the climate disruption and record pace of species decline.

The report says that by the end of this century, global temperatures will rise by 3°C. This is “twice what climate experts have warned is the limit to avoid the most severe economic, social and environmental consequences”. 

Тhe WEF also highlights the problem of a reduction in biodiversity. The level of extinction of animal and plant species is reported to be a hundred times higher than the average over the past 10 million years. This threatens the global food production system and businesses as it may lead to a lack of substances for the production of medicines. In addition, extinction of species accelerates climate change. The environmental risks are underestimated when making decisions in businesses, warns the WEF. 

It is also noted that respondents born after 1980 rate environmental risks in the short and long term higher than other respondents. Almost 90% of them believe that in 2020 such problems as “extreme heat”, “ecosystem destruction” and “health effects of pollutants” will be getting worse. They also believe that the impact of environmental risks by 2030 will be even more catastrophic and more likely to happen.

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