Climate Change

Top 5 global risks in next decade environmental: WEF report

The document also found a ‘generational shift’ in climate perception and warned about increasing health burden due to diseases

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Monday 20 January 2020

The top five risks to humanity in the new decade are environmental, a report of the World Economic Forum (WEF) released ahead of its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland has said.

According to the report, the top five risks by likelihood over the next decade are: 

  • Extreme weather events like floods and storms
  • Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Major natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and geomagnetic storms
  • Major biodiversity losses and ecosystem collapse
  • Human-made environmental damage and disasters

More people died around the globe due to extreme weather events in 2019, the State of India’s Environment Report 2020 (SoE Report 2020) published by Down to Earth, stated. Eighteen per cent more people died due to seven major extreme weather events in 2019 and most of them were in Asia and Africa, the SoE Report 2020 showed.  

The world also witnessed two major wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and Australia in 2019.

The report was released on January 16, 2020. The WEF will hold its annual meeting in the Swiss town of Davos on January 21-24.

The report is based on the perception of over 750 global experts and decision-makers about the likelihood and impact of global risks.

Another important finding of the report is that today’s younger generation, consisting of “Millenials” born after 1980, have ranked environmental risks higher than other older respondents in the short- and long-terms.

Almost 90 per cent of the young people consulted for their perception, believed that “extreme heat waves”, “destruction of ecosystems” and “health impacted by pollution” would be further aggravated in 2020, compared to around 70 per cent for other generations.

The youth also believed the impact from environmental risks by 2030 will be more catastrophic and more likely.

The younger generation around the world demanded greater action on climate change in 2019.

But despite the need to be more ambitious when it comes to climate action, the UN has warned that countries are off-the-track when it comes to meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The WEF report also warned about the increasing economic and societal costs due to non-communicable diseases and the lack of research on vaccines and drug resistance to address the threat of pandemics in the recent future.

“Economic confrontations” and “domestic political polarisation” are significant short-term risks in 2020, the report said. Seventy-eight per cent of the respondents felt that economic confrontation will increase.

This is a warning for the global South including India and Africa where social unrest has seen a rise. For example, unrest has grown among India’s youth.

In fact, Delhi had witnessed the maximum number of public protests since 2011. Zimbabwe in Africa continues to face the worst economic and climate crisis and the country now has to import corn due to the crop loss in 2019 and the drought that is likely to continue in 2020 too.

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