There’s little faith in the global economic recovery accelerating, with officials and business leaders citing climate change and rising social tensions, alongside the pandemic, among their top risks, the World Economic Forum found.
Only 1 in 6 survey respondents from government, civil society and commerce described their outlook as optimistic, while just 1 in 10 thinks worldwide economic expansion will pick up speed, the WEF said Tuesday in its Global Risks Report for 2022.
Worries over climate-transition failures and extreme weather conditions are among the biggest concerns, particularly in the next five to 10 years, according to the report.
Short-term fears include health and social cleavages caused by COVID-19, while economic and debt-related issues are cited as medium-term dangers, with experts saying the global recovery may be volatile and uneven.
The pandemic has also shifted perceptions of which risks are most likely to materialize during the next decade, with climate and social concerns displacing cyber and data fraud, the study showed.
“Failure to act on climate change could shrink global GDP by one-sixth,” Zurich Insurance Group’s chief risk officer, Peter Giger, said in the WEF note accompanying the report. “The commitments taken at COP26 are still not enough to achieve the 1.5-degree goal.”
Respondents would like greater coordination among leaders to try to solve the world’s problems, even as diverging recoveries from the crisis threaten cooperation, the survey showed.
The report also highlighted how social cohesion broke down during the crisis, making it the risk that’s worsened the most since the start of the pandemic, according to Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF.
“When you look at the top 20 percent, the richest people in the world, they’ve been able to recover about half of their losses in the last couple of years. When you look at the lowest 20 percent, the poorest 20 percent in the world, they’ve further lost another 5 percent of their income,” she told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. “It’s only going to get worse unless we take some action.”
–With assistance from Samuel Dodge, Demetrios Pogkas, Kailey Leinz, Matthew Miller and Craig Stirling.