The charismatic strongman politics of US President Donald Trump and other national leaders threatens the world's ability to cope with climate change and increases the risk of geopolitical conflict, according to an annual survey of global leaders published by the Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) on Wednesday.
Out of 30 risks, extreme weather was singled out as the single most prominent threat facing the world in terms of likelihood.
Based on the opinions of nearly 1,000 global experts and decision-makers, the top 5 global risks in 2018 in terms of likelihood are extreme weather events, natural disasters, cyber attacks, data fraud or theft, and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
Cyber security risks are also growing, according to the WEF report.
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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. More than 90% of survey respondents said they expect an increase in frictions between major global powers, while 80% said they also expect an increase in risks stemming from state-on-state military conflict and large-scale cyber attacks.
Before 2010, environmental risks didn't register in the top five concerns at all. According to the report, the major risks for 2018 include climate change threats such as extreme temperatures and bad weather, as well as economic inequality and cyber attacks. The top risk was "extreme weather events", followed by "natural disasters" and "data fraud or theft" was the fourth most likely risk to come to fruition. Other risks identified along the same lines were major natural disasters, man-made disasters and eco-system collapse.
Economic threats feature less prominently after the International Monetary Fund raised its global GDP projections to 3.6% for this year, with WEF founder, Klaus Schwab, saying this presents an opportunity to strengthen the world's institutions.
"Cyber-attacks are increasing and have become a global concern as many systems and devices that run critical infrastructure and decision making are now connected through the worldwide web. Above all, the challenge is to find the will and momentum to work together for a shared future", said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
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"The risks we are trying to grapple with here require multilateral solutions but we are moving in the other direction", said John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at the consultancy Marsh, which helped compile the report. "At the same time, many risks are becoming increasingly systemic in nature", said Drzeniek Hanouz.
"While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts if we are to prevent the same bulging "protection" gap between economic and insured losses that we see for natural catastrophes".
In terms of how the Forum will respond to growing cyber-threats Richard Samans, member of the managing board, World Economic Forum, explained that at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week, the Forum will be launching a new public-private platform in the form of a Global Centre for Cybersecurity. "It's not yet too late to shape a more resilient tomorrow, but we need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid potential system collapse".
For example, while many businesses were able to open immediately after the hurricanes and wildfires previous year, their customers often were displaced, which led to a loss of business income that was not covered by traditional business interruption insurance because there was no damage to the policyholders' properties, he said.
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