For the second year running, the environment has topped a report into the risks posed to global well-being and security.
The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Perception Survey, released this week, highlights the continued need to address environmental dangers across the world.
The report asked almost 1,000 global experts to rank 30 potential risks. Respondents focussed on the dangers posed by extreme weather, biodiversity loss, and a failure to combat climate change.
It follows the news from NASA yesterday that 2017 was the second warmest for global temperatures since records began in 1880.
Extreme weather events in particular topped the list for the single most prominent risk. This also comes shortly after a year of unprecedented natural disasters; examples of which include Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria hitting North America and the Caribbean over the summer months, causing an estimated $300 billion in damages. At the same time, Bangladesh was impacted by severe flooding which led to the deaths of 1,200 people, and affected more than 41 million.
Despite the multiple risks posed by the environment, the report also details that the global economy was in good health and that political leaders have a “golden opportunity” to address these challenges. “A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander, to tackle the fractures that we have allowed to weaken the world’s institutions, societies and environment”, said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group also stressed that governments could do more, commenting: “Environmental risks, together with a growing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the foundation of most of our commons. Unfortunately we currently observe a “too-little-too-late” response by governments and organisations to key trends such as climate change. It’s not yet too late to shape a more resilient tomorrow, but we need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid potential system collapse”.
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