11 July 2024

Business and government leaders currently see the loss of life from Covid-19 and related economic effects as the world’s greatest short-term threats, said the World Economic Forum.

The group which organises an annual get together of leading industrial and political voices at the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos carries out a survey of its members beforehand to determine what they consider as the greatest global threats.

Unsurprisingly, this year the Covid-19 pandemic is at the top of the list for short-term threats, though climate change remains among the top long-term concerns.

“The immediate human and economic cost of Covid-19 is severe,” said the WEF’s Global Risks Report (GRPS) 2021.

“It threatens to scale back years of progress on reducing poverty and inequality and to further weaken social cohesion and global cooperation,” it added.

Most of those who replied to the GRPS identified “infectious diseases” and “livelihood crises” as the top short-term threats worldwide.

The risk of “social cohesion erosion” due to the pandemic and joblessness was deemed another critical short-term threat.

The report noted that young adults are experiencing their second major global crisis in a decade, having lived through the disruption of the financial crisis and the economic inequality it aggravated.

“This generation faces serious challenges to their education, economic prospects and mental health,” the report said, warning of “an age of lost opportunity” as well as social unrest and political fragmentation.

WEF’s leaders also noted that its Global Risks Report has been warning of the threat of a pandemic since 2006, which it said highlighted the need find more effective ways to identify and communicate risk to decision-makers.

The report is based on a survey of 841 people who are part of WEF’s stakeholder communities including business, academia, government and NGOs. They were questioned in September and October.

The World Economic Forum itself has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, shifting its usual January summit in Davos to May in Singapore, which will be the first gathering of global leaders to discuss how the world can recover from the pandemic since the outbreak of COVID-19

Nevertheless, next week the WEF will be holding a virtual Davos: a week of events dedicated to helping leaders choose innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year.

According to the released schedule, leaders will engage in dialogs on designing cohesive, sustainable, resilient economic systems, driving responsible industry transformation and growth, enhancing stewardship of global governance, harnessing the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and advancing global and regional cooperation.