World Economic Forum report reveals climate change also high on the agenda


Wealth gaps and unsustainable government debt are the main risks facing the world economy, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 report.

The report surveyed more than 1,000 experts and industry leaders and revealed that rising greenhouse gas emissions and failure of climate change adaptation were the next biggest threats over the next decade.

World Economic Forum director and editor of the report Lee Howell said: “These global risks are essentially a health warning regarding our most critical systems.

“National resilience to global risks needs to be a priority so that critical systems continue to function despite a major disturbance.”

The report was developed with the help of Marsh & McLennan Companies, Swiss Re, Zurich Insurance Group, the Oxford Martin School, the National University of Singapore and the Wharton Center for Risk Management.

Zurich’s chief risk officer Axel Lehmann said: “With the growing cost of events like Superstorm Sandy, huge threats to island nations and coastal communities, and no resolution to greenhouse gas emissions, the writing is on the wall. It is time to act.”

Oliver Wyman Group’s chief executive John Drzik said: “Two storms – environmental and economic – are on a collision course. If we don’t allocate the resources needed to mitigate the rising risk from severe weather events, global prosperity for future generations could be threatened.

“Political leaders, business leaders and scientists need to come together to manage these complex risks.”

Swiss Re’s group chief risk officer David Cole said: “Coping with the economic and climate-change crises is unfortunately no longer seen as a continuum, but as opposing choices. The idea has gained ground that we can’t have solutions to both.

“But we need to go beyond this thinking-in-boxes approach. Because smart risk management is about taking a holistic stance on situations, we should do the same when it comes to the economic and climate-change challenges we’re facing,” he said.