Disasters, extreme weather events, public safety, emergency communication | Homeland Security Newswire

Risk assessment2018: Critical period of intensified risks

Published 18 January 2018

The Global Risks Report 2018, published this week by the World Economic Forum cautions that we are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of change. It highlights numerous areas in which we are pushing systems to the brink, from extinction-level rates of biodiversity loss to mounting concerns about the possibility of new wars. The reports says that the structural and interconnected nature of risks in 2018 threatens the very system on which societies, economies, and international relations are based – but that the positive economic outlook gives leaders the opportunity to tackle systemic fragility.

The prospect of strong economic growth in 2018 presents leaders with a golden opportunity to address signs of severe weakness in many of the complex systems that underpin our world, such as societies, economies, international relations, and the environment. That is the message of The Global Risks Report 2018, published by the World Economic Forum yesterday (Wednesday, 17 January).

The report – which comes out every January, and which includes the perspectives of global experts and decision-makers on the most significant risks that face the world – cautions that we are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of change. It highlights numerous areas in which we are pushing systems to the brink, from extinction-level rates of biodiversity loss to mounting concerns about the possibility of new wars.

WEF says that the organization’s annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) suggests that experts are preparing for another year of heightened risk. When WEF asked nearly 1,000 respondents for their views about the trajectory of risks in 2018, 59 percent of their answers pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with 7 percent pointing to declining risks.

A deteriorating geopolitical landscape is partly to blame for the pessimistic outlook in 2018, with 93 percent of respondents saying they expect political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen and nearly 80 percent expecting an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers.

However, as in 2017, the environment was by far the greatest concern raised by experts. Among the thirty global risks the experts were asked to prioritize in terms of likelihood and impact, all five environmental risks – extreme weather; biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; major natural disasters; man-made environmental disasters; and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation – were ranked highly on both dimensions. Extreme weather events were seen as the single most prominent risk.

“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. We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown. Together we have the resources and the