Climate change remained the number one risk in Europe but fell to third place in Asia and America

AXA has published the seventh edition of its Future Risks Report. This global study found that previously underestimated risks related to pandemics and infectious diseases rose from eighth position in 2019 to top the 2020 ranking. Climate change-related risk was ranked second in terms of its importance overall, dropping from the top spot it has held for the past few years.

The research measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks by a panel of risk management experts and the general public. 

Climate change remained the number one risk in Europe but fell to third place in Asia and America. The drop is particularly marked in North America, where the share of experts who consider this a major risk has fallen from 71% in 2019 to 46% in 2020.

Cybersecurity risk, ranked third, increased in prominence this year with the new and widespread adoption of technology and the explosion of cyberattacks during lockdown. In particular, the perception of cyber warfare risk has increased; it is seen as the main security threat by 47% of experts compared to 37% last year.

The risk of shutdown of essential services and critical infrastructure following a cyberattack has also increased (+7 points to 51%). Geopolitical risks occupy fourth place, with a significant increase in the risk of digital warfare between nations, which experts consider to be the top new security threat. Finally, the risk of social unrest placed was ranked fifth by risk managers.

Over 20,000 people were interviewed. Conducted in partnership with research institute IPSOS and geopolitical analysis consultancy Eurasia Group, this year’s ranking of the 10 main emerging risks is marked by the Covid-19 crisis.