Extreme Weather leads in Global Risks 2024
Extreme weather events pose the greatest risk to humanity over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks 2024 Report. Still, misinformation and economic uncertainty are the main concerns in the short term.
The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks report analyses the main challenges facing the world two and ten years ahead. It also examines possible partnerships and different approaches to address these global risks.
While preparing the 2024 report, 1,490 experts from academia, business, government, the international community and civil society were surveyed. To complement this data, the Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) of 11,000 business leaders in 113 economies has been added to identify the risks that pose the most serious threat to each country.
A total of 34 global risks are analysed, including technological and economic factors, as well as social and geopolitical risks. A global risk is defined as the possibility of an event or condition occurring that would adversely affect a significant proportion of the world’s GDP, population or natural resources.
Main global risks linked to climate change
Changes related to the climate emergency, such as extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity, collapse of ecosystems or scarcity of natural resources, represent the greatest threat to humanity in the next ten years.
Two-thirds of respondents are concerned about extreme weather events over the next decade, a factor that also ranks second in terms of risk over the next two years. In this case, 5 of the top 10 global risks are related to the environment and climate change.
Among the heads of civil society organisations, Kirsten Schuijt, Director General of WWF International, warned that “unless we take urgent action, the threat will only intensify and bring us closer to inflicting irreversible damage on society and ecosystems”. Indeed, studies show that potentially irreversible changes to the planet could occur by the 2030s if temperatures continue to rise.
Increased risk of disinformation and social polarisation
Disinformation, including that generated by artificial intelligence, and social and political polarisation are second and third in the ranking of concerns. Polarised societies are more likely to rely on information (true or false) that confirms their biases. In the short term, disinformation may affect 4 billion people who will vote in 60 countries in 2024.
The report warns that governments will increasingly be in a position to determine which narrative is considered “the truth”, which could allow political parties to monopolise public discourse and suppress dissenting voices. Disinformation is therefore expected to continue to be used by domestic and foreign actors to widen socio-political divisions.
In this context, social polarisation emerges as one of the main risks that are interconnected with economic recession and lack of opportunities. Moreover, geopolitical tensions and armed conflicts are severely affecting the livelihoods of millions of people, and increase the possibility of war with global consequences.
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