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Climate Crisis, Cybersecurity – Top Global Risks of 2022

According to the World Economic Forum report the top long-term risks relate to climate, growing social divides, heightened cyber risks, mental health deterioration and an uneven global recovery, as pandemic lingers on.


Climate risks dominate global concerns as the world enters the third year of the pandemic. According to the Global Risks Report 2022, while the top long-term risks relate to climate, the other global concerns include growing social divides, heightened cyber risks, mental health deterioration and an uneven global recovery, as pandemic lingers on.

Additionally, most experts believe a global economic recovery will be volatile and uneven over the next three years.

Now in its 17th edition, the report, developed with the invaluable support of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Advisory Board, encourages leaders to think outside the quarterly reporting cycle and create policies that manage risks and shape the agenda for the coming years.

It explores four areas of emerging risk: cybersecurity; competition in space; a disorderly climate transition; and migration pressures, each requiring global coordination for successful management.

According to the report, by 2024, most developing economies will have fallen 5.5% below their pre-pandemic expected GDP growth, while advanced economies will have surpassed it by 0.9%.

Such global divergence will impact on the world’s ability to tackle common challenges including climate change, enhancing digital safety, restoring livelihoods and societal cohesion, and managing competition in space.

“Widening disparities within and between countries will not only make it more difficult to control COVID-19 and its variants, but will also risk stalling, if not reversing, joint action against shared threats that the world cannot afford to overlook,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

The risk horizon changes over the coming years, as the full implications of the pandemic become clearer. In the next two years, risk experts and leaders see the erosion of social cohesion, the deterioration of mental health, infectious diseases and livelihood crises as being equal to environmental threats – which are constant across the short to long term.

In the next five years, economic risks of debt crises and geo-economic confrontations emerge as governments struggle to balance fiscal priorities. While the long-term top five is dominated by environmental risks, Zahidi added that health and economic disruptions are compounding social cleavages. This is creating tensions at a time when collaboration within societies and among the international community will be fundamental to ensure a more even and rapid global recovery.

According to Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group, “The climate crisis remains the biggest long-term threat facing humanity. Failure to act on climate change could shrink global GDP by one-sixth and the commitments taken at COP26 are still not enough to achieve the 1.5 C goal. It is not too late for governments and businesses to act on the risks they face and to drive an innovative, determined and inclusive transition that protects economies and people.”

The report closes with reflections on year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, yielding fresh insights on national-level resilience. Hence, amidst all the bleak predictions, there’s still reason to hope for more positive outcomes, with the Global Risks Report 2022 including lessons in resilience from the COVID-19 pandemic, advice for cooperation in space, greater cyber resilience and a more sequenced climate transition.

For example, Carolina Klint, Risk Management Leader, Continental Europe, Marsh McLennan, said, “As companies recover from the pandemic, they are rightly sharpening their focus on organizational resilience and ESG credentials.”

“With cyber threats now growing faster than our ability to eradicate them permanently, it is clear that neither resilience nor governance are possible without credible and sophisticated cyber risk management plans. Similarly, organizations need to start understanding their space risks, particularly the risk to satellites on which we have become increasingly reliant, given the rise in geopolitical ambitions and tensions,” Klint said.

“The least disruptive climate transition measures will be those that holistically integrate the needs of individuals, societies, businesses and planet,” Zahidi said, adding that global leaders must come together and adopt a coordinated multistakeholder approach to tackle unrelenting global challenges and build resilience ahead of the next crisis.

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