The recently released Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum has listed extreme weather conditions, failure of climate-change mitigation, natural disasters, biodiversity loss, and human-led environmental disasters as the five biggest threats in 2020. By Sushmita Srivastav

Following a year full of extreme weather conditions, natural hazards, and mounting evidence of global heating, the Global Risks Report for 2020 by World Economic Forum confirms that the climate change hitting harder and rising faster than the world predicted. All five places in the annual report that lists major threats for the world are taken by issues concerned with the environment. It has happened for the first time ever since the launch of the report in 2006, that all the top five global risks listed are environmental.

The top five risks in terms of likelihood in the next 10 years in the list are:

  • Extreme weather events with major damage to property, infrastructure, and loss of human life.
  • Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation by governments and businesses.
  • Human-made environmental damage and disasters, including environmental crime, such as oil spills and radioactive contamination.
  • Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse with irreversible consequences for the environment, resulting in severely depleted resources for humankind as well as industries.
  • Major natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and geomagnetic storms.

“The political landscape is polarised, sea levels are rising and climate fires are burning. This is the year when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of cooperation, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks,” says Børge Brende, the president of the World Economic Forum.

The report also highlights how long-mounting interconnected risks are starting to be felt. The synchronised slowdown of the global economy, the warmest temperatures on record, and an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment are creating significant challenges. It believes that the impact of environmental risks will be more catastrophic and more likely by 2030.

The report was released just in time, ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for next week. The carbon-neutral event is expected to be attended by chief executives of some of the world’s biggest and most powerful companies.

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