Environmental risks ranked even higher in 2018 World Economic Forum report

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The World Economic Forum has published the 2018 edition of ‘The Global Risks Report’. It shows that environmental issues dominate the risks of greatest concern, following an increased prominence in last year’s report. Three environmental concerns were place in the top five risks both in terms of likelihood and potential impact.

Extreme weather events can be seen as the risk of greatest overall concern. They were identified as the risk most likely to occur, along with being seen as the risk which, if occurring, was ranked second in terms of its impact.

Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation, along with natural disasters, were other top-five risks in terms of likelihood. Both of these were also in the top five risks in terms of impact. Water crisis was ranked fifth in terms of impact, but was not among the top ten in terms of likelihood.

Data fraud or theft was joined as a top-five risk in terms of likelihood by cyber attacks. Large scale migration and large scale terrorist attacks dropped out of the top five in terms of likelihood.

The top risk in terms of impact was weapons of mass destruction, but this was not among the top ten in terms of likelihood either. The top five risk in terms of impact were in fact the same as in last year’s report, but with the risk of a water crisis dropping from third place.

‘Environmental risks have grown in prominence in recent years,’ WEF comments in the report. ‘This trend has continued this year, with all five risks in the environmental category being ranked higher than average for both likelihood and impact over a 10-year horizon.’

It adds: ‘A trend towards nation-state unilateralism may make it more difficult to sustain the long-term, multilateral responses that are required to counter global warming and the degradation of the global environment.’

‘The Global Risks Report 2018 can be downloaded from the World Economic Forum’s website: www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2018


  • climate change, risk