Tough times ahead, say concerned experts in risk survey

Tough times ahead, say concerned experts in risk survey

"We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown", said Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, WEF.

The report has a message: the prospect of strong economic growth presents leaders with a golden opportunity to address signs of severe weakness in numerous complex systems that underpin the world, such as societies, economies, worldwide relations and the environment. 2018, they agree, will be dominated by heightened political risks, that could spill over into open conflict between major powers, and by failure to address climate change. Nearly 1,000 experts and decision-makers considered the likelihood and impact of 30 global risks over the next decade.

The survey of almost 1,000 experts from government, business, academia and non-governmental organisations showed 93 per cent expect a worsening of political or economic confrontations between major powers in 2018, including 40 per cent who believe those risks have increased significantly. When the almost 1 000 respondents were asked for their views about the trajectory of risks in 2018, 59% of their answers pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with 7% pointing to declining risks. 93 percent stated an expectation that political or economic confrontations between major powers would get worse, and nearly 80 percent expected to see a greater risk of war between major powers.

The report pointed out that in 2017, the environment was by far the greatest concern raised by experts. The top risk was "extreme weather events", followed by "natural disasters" and "data fraud or theft" was the fourth most likely risk to come to fruition.

"The expanding economic recovery gives us an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste", said Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum.

"Cyber-attacks are increasing and have become a global concern as many systems and devices that run critical infrastructure and decision making are now connected through the worldwide web".

"Geopolitical friction is contributing to a surge in the scale and sophistication of cyberattacks", said John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at insurance broker Marsh, referring to simmering conflicts from Ukraine to North Korea. At the same time cyber exposure is growing as firms becoming more dependent on technology. "While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts".

More news: Trump signs tax bill into law, heads to Florida for Christmas

WEF says the GRPS has shown that environmental risks have grown in prominence in recent years, and the trend continued in the most recent survey, with all five risks in the environmental category being ranked higher than average for both likelihood and impact over a 10-year horizon.

"The financial impact of cybersecurity breaches is rising, and some of the largest costs in 2017 related to ransomware attacks".

Of the risks that could have the biggest impact to the world, after weapons of mass destruction, the next three are environmental.

"Unfortunately, we now observe a "too-little-too-late" response by governments and organisations to key trends such as climate change".

The environment has once again ranked as the most pressing global risk in the annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) from the World Economic Forum, underlining the concern felt by economic experts at the rapid rate of change in the natural world. The numerous attacks from past year proved that the nature of cyber threats is constantly evolving and no organisation, be it big or small, can afford to be complacent.

For example, while many businesses were able to open immediately after the hurricanes and wildfires a year ago, their customers often were displaced, which led to a loss of business income that was not covered by traditional business interruption insurance because there was no damage to the policyholders' properties, he said.

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