Intensifying environmental dangers will be the second most influential factor in shaping the next decade.
That’s according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), which predicted economic inequality will be the largest contributing factor to global risks, then climate change, with societal polarisation coming in at third place.
For the study, 750 experts assessed the 30 largest global risks and the 13 most prominent underlying trends that could potentially amplify them.
For the first time, all five environmental risks were rated both high risk and high likelihood, with extreme weather events emerging as the single largest threat. The other factors were water crises, food crises, natural disasters and the failure of climate change mitigation.
The report suggests that while the climate field has seen significant progress in the last year, including a number of the world’s largest economies ratifying the Paris Agreement, political upheavals such as Brexit and Donald Trump being elected could undermine these advancements.
Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, Head of Global Competitiveness and Risks at the WEF, said: “Urgent action is needed among leaders to identify ways to overcome political or ideological differences and work together to solve critical challenges.
“The momentum of 2016 towards addressing climate change shows this is possible and offers hope that collective action at the international level aimed at resetting other risks could also be achieved.”