Infectious diseases, livelihood crises, extreme weather, digital inequality among top 10 risks in next 2 years, warns report
Even if vaccinations are successful, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to cast a long shadow, endangering the economy in the next 3-5 years, and weakening geopolitical stability in the next 5-10 years, said a report released on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
In its Global Risks Report for 2021, the WEF warned of the negative impact of outbreaks such as COVID-19 on the economy, saying they exacerbate disparities and social fragmentation.
“Billions of caregivers, workers and students especially minorities who were disadvantaged before the pandemic are now at risk of missing pathways to the new and fairer societies that the recovery could unlock,” said the Swiss-based forum, best known for organizing the annual Davos conference.
For the younger generation, set to be the most affected by these developments, medium- and long-term risks are environmental, while immediate concerns include mental health deterioration and livelihood crises.
The WEF especially called for the world to wake up to environmental concerns, which top the list of biggest concerns by impact and probability over the next decade.
The report stressed how the growing digital gap between the “haves” and “have nots” threatens social cohesion.
“This will particularly affect young people worldwide, as this group faces its second global crisis in a generation and could miss out altogether on opportunities in the next decade,” it said, referring to the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
Financial, digital, and reputational pressures resulting from COVID-19 also threaten to leave behind many companies and their workforces in the markets of the future.
While these potential disparities could lead to societal fragmentation, an increasingly tense and fragile geopolitical outlook will also threaten the global recovery if mid-sized powers lack a seat at the global table.
Societal fissures, uncertainty, and anxiety will make it more difficult to achieve the coordination needed to address the planet’s continued degradation, said the report.
Moreover, infectious diseases and livelihood crises, extreme weather, insufficient cyber security measures, and digital inequality are among the top 10 risks over the next two years, it added.