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World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024

by Madaline Dunn

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2024, produced in partnership with Zurich Insurance Group and Marsh McLennan, lays out some of the biggest risks the world may face over the next ten years and has identified climate change, biodiversity loss, and AI-generated misinformation and disinformation to be among the top risks.

WEF surveyed over 1,400 global risk experts, policymakers and industry leaders in September 2023 to gain insight into their biggest concerns, resulting in a predominantly negative outlook for the world in the short term and something that is expected to worsen over the long term.

A total of 30 per cent of global experts surveyed expect an elevated chance of global catastrophes in the next two years.

This shot up to 63 per cent for respondents expecting a stormy or turbulent outlook in the next ten years.

Less than 10 per cent expect a “calm or stable situation.”

Two-thirds of global experts also anticipate a multipolar or fragmented order to take shape in the same period.

After the hottest year since records began, two-thirds of respondents selected extreme weather (66%) as the top risk faced in 2024; indeed, extreme weather, critical change to Earth systems, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, natural resource shortages and pollution were listed as five of the top ten most severe risks perceived to be faced over the next decade.

That being said, respondents disagreed on the urgency of environmental risks, in particular, on biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse and critical change to Earth systems.

Younger respondents, it was found, ranked them highly over the two years when compared to older age groups; both risks featured in their top 10 rankings in the short term.

The private sector highlighted these risks as top concerns over the longer term. Civil society or government, on the other hand, prioritised these risks over shorter time frames.

Extreme weather was followed by AI-generated misinformation and disinformation (53%) in second place and societal and/or political polarisation (46%) in third place.

Indeed, the report noted that over the next two years, nearly three billion people are expected to head to the electoral polls. Here, it was highlighted that the widespread use of misinformation and disinformation and tools to disseminate it could undermine the legitimacy of newly elected governments. This, it said, could result in unrest in different forms, from violent protests and hate crimes to civil confrontation and terrorism.

Read the full report here.

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