Climate change, inequality and societal polarization top risk trends according to WEF

Economic inequality, societal polarization and intensifying environmental dangers are the top three trends that will shape global developments over the next 10 years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2017 issued on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

For the first time in the annual WEF review, all five environmental risks in the survey (extreme weather events, natural disasters, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity loss and ecosystems collapse, man-made environmental disasters) were ranked both high-risk and high-likelihood, with extreme weather events emerging as the single most prominent global risk.


The report stresses the progress made in 2016 in the area of climate change, with the wide ratification and early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. Nonetherless, the report warns that political change in Europe and North America puts this progress at risk. It also highlights the difficulty that leaders will face to agree on a course of action at the international level to tackle the most pressing economic and societal risks.

“Urgent action is needed among leaders to identify ways to overcome political or ideological differences and work together to solve critical challenges. The momentum of 2016 towards addressing climate change shows this is possible, and offers hope that collective action at the international level aimed at resetting other risks could also be achieved,” said Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, Head of WEF Global Competitiveness and Risks in the official release.

The report also stresses the need for more inclusive societies, international cooperation and long-term thinking in order to arrest or reverse key drivers of risks.

These topics will be centre stage at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, starting on January 17 under the theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.



(Image: GEO-X Summit in Geneva, 2014. Photo credit: United States Mission Geneva/Flickr)