Published: 08 Jan 2013 12:03 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 08 Jan 2013 12:03 GMT+01:00
With rising economic strains on one side and ever more environmental concerns on the other, the world could soon find itself in "the perfect global storm", the Geneva-based World Economic Forum warned in a report on Tuesday.
"The world is more at risk as persistent economic weakness saps our ability to tackle environmental challenges," warned the WEF, which each year hosts a
massive get-together of decision makers and activists at the Swiss mountain resort in Davos.
In its Global Risks 2013 report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 experts from industry, government, academia and civil society, WEF pointed out
that crises and austerity measures were severely testing the global economic system.
At the same time, it said, the world faced rising global temperatures and more extreme weather like catastrophic flooding in China and Hurricane
Sandy, which slammed into the East Coast of the United States in late October.
The acute social and economic difficulties are making the world more reluctant to address more long-term threats like climate change, while natural disasters wreak serious havoc on many economies, the report cautioned.
"Two storms — environmental and economic — are on a collision course," warned John Drzik, the head of Oliver Wyman Group and one of the experts surveyed for the report.
The experts, who were asked to rate 50 global risks, suggested the risk of growing wealth gaps was the most likely to materialize, followed by unsustainable government debt and rising greenhouse gas emissions.
They deemed, however, that major systemic financial failure would have the biggest impact if it happened, followed by a major water supply crisis and chronic fiscal imbalances.
The list of global risks "are essentially a health warning regarding our most critical systems," said WEF managing director Lee Howell, who edited the
"National resilience to global risks needs to be a priority so that critical systems continue to function despite a major disturbance, he added in the statement.
In addition to the economic and environmental risks, the WEF report also identified so-called "digital wildfires" as a top risk category.
"While in many ways a force for good, the democratization of information can also have volatile and unpredictable consequences," it cautioned.
One example, it said, was the September riots provoked by the crudely made anti-Islam film "The Innocence of Muslims."
"As the media's traditional role as gatekeeper is eroded," the world needs to find ways to put out such blazes, WEF said.
The third and final risk category in the 2013 report was linked to what the WEF described as dangerous complacency towards health concerns like rising
resistance to antibiotics.
The risks highlighted in the report will be the focus of a special session at the WEF's annual meeting in Davos at the end of January.
China's Premier Li Keqiang has slammed the European Union for plans to probe the country's telecom products and impose taxes on its solar panels, Chinese state media reported on Saturday. READ () »
Tibetan exiles in Bern on Friday urged Swiss authorities to take China to task for its human rights record during a landmark visit by Premier Li Keqiang focused squarely on a trade deal. READ () »
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday hailed a free trade deal with Switzerland as a landmark achievement, saying it had "huge meaning" for global trade and underscored Beijing's growing openness to the world. READ () »
Steffan Millius grips his sword and makes his way through the throngs of people crowding into Appenzell's central square to take part in Switzerland's famous direct democracy in perhaps its purest form. READ () »
A University of Neuchâtel professor under fire for alleged plagiarism is now facing accusations of falsifying his CV. READ () »
The sailboat of Swiss explorer and adventurer Mike Horn was ordered seized by a Marseille court in a southern French port over a dispute involving a naval architect, according to a media report. READ () »
Geneva cantonal police raided eight erotic massage parlours on Tuesday for an investigation into tax fraud allegedly amounting to several million francs. READ () »
A diamond necklace from Geneva jeweller De Grisogono worth 2.5 million francs was reported stolen from Cannes on Thursday, just days after thieves made off with 1.4 million francs' worth of bling from Chopard, another jeweller from the Swiss city. READ () »
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sees a looming free-trade deal with Switzerland as a touchstone for Beijing's growing ties with foreign nations, he told a Swiss newspaper on Thursday ahead of a landmark visit to Europe. READ () »
Whether you have ever or never visited the Netherlands, the country that crowned a new monarch this year is also celebrating a wealth of special jubilees in its popular capital. Here’s the lowdown on why Amsterdam is the place to be in 2013. READ () »