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WEF lays out global risks ahead: Cost of living and climate dominate

The world faces a set of risks that feel both wholly new and eerily familiar. The Global Risks Report 2023 explores some of the most severe risks we may face over the next decade. As we stand on the edge of a low-growth and low-cooperation era, tougher trade-offs risk eroding climate action, human development and future resilience.

The war in Ukraine has disrupted the return to a ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this year’s WEF Global Risks Report.

The 2022-2023 Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) identified the energy supply crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation, the food supply crisis, and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure as among the top risks with the most significant potential global impact in 2023.

It also flagged concerns over the failure to meet net zero targets, the weaponization of economic policy, the weakening of human rights, the debt crisis, and the failure of non-food supply chains.

The report states that all the current risks are converging to shape a unique, uncertain, and turbulent decade to come.

Respondents to the GRPS (more than 1,200 experts across academia, business, government, the international community, and civil society) see the path to 2025 dominated by social and environmental risks, driven by underlying geopolitical and economic trends.

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Respondents expect the cost-of-living crisis, the economic down-turn, geo-economic warfare, the climate action hiatus, and societal polarisation to play out over the next two years.

They will also have ramifications for the next ten years. Some respondents felt optimistic about the outlook for the world in the long term, predicting limited volatility with a relative – and potentially renewed – stability over the next ten years. Yet, over half expect progressive tipping points and persistent crises leading to catastrophic outcomes or consistent volatility over the next ten years.

‘Global risk’ is defined as the possibility of an event or condition occurring that would negatively impact a significant proportion of global GDP, population, or natural resources.

The report explains that some of the current global risks are close to a tipping point and understanding them is vital to shaping a more secure future.

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