2018 could be 'most dangerous' year ever - WEF report

2018 could be 'most dangerous' year ever - WEF report”

Cyberattacks are now the third-largest threat facing the world, following natural disasters and extreme weather, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2018, released Wednesday.

The survey of almost 1,000 experts from government, business, academia and non-governmental organizations showed 93 percent expect a worsening of political or economic confrontations between major powers in 2018, including 40 percent who believe those risks have increased significantly. What's more, for the first time in years, Co2 emissions increased in 2017, putting the Paris climate accord's goal of net-zero emissions by about 2050 even further out of reach.

A deteriorating geopolitical landscape is partly to blame for the pessimistic outlook in 2018, with 93 percent of respondents saying they expected political or economic confrontations between major powers to worsen and almost 80 percent thought there would be an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers.

Yet worsening income inequality means not everyone is enjoying the fruits of that expansion, with the report noting that more than half of the world's countries have seen an increase in income inequality during the past 30 years.

"What would be instructive is to hear from the new USA administration that it is interested and understands there are serious risks of the ilk we discuss in the report, and sees an important role for worldwide cooperation", Richard Samans, a member of the WEF's managing board, said at a press conference when asked Trump's appearance at the event.

But the rising concern over environmental dangers is a double-edged sword. And two of the most prominent risks for American businesses, specifically, will be inadequate protections against cyberattacks and the potential environmental disasters stemming from climate change.

Economic risks feature less prominently this year but there are worries that the improvement in global GDP growth rates may lead to complacency about persistent structural risks in the global economic and financial systems.

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.

"A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunity that we can not afford to squander", said Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman 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".

"This generation enjoys unprecedented technological, scientific and financial resources", but is "the first generation to take the world to the brink of a systems breakdown", Schwab wrote.

And it is likely to get worse in 2018, according to John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at Marsh, one of the project's strategic partners.

The report further said that amid geopolitical flux, national identity becomes a growing source of tension around contested borders, while clashes related to identity and community continue to drive political dislocations in many countries and are increasingly fuelling cross-border tensions.

Therefore, there is a need for greater investment in cyber-risk management, he added, suggesting "we are still under resourced in the amount of effort put into trying to mitigate this risk". While weapons of mass destruction retained their place as the most destructive risk, their use was judged the least likely to occur.

Alison Martin, Group Chief Risk Officer of Zurich Insurance Group, said; "it's not yet too late to shape a more resilient tomorrow, but we need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid potential system collapse".

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

For example, while many businesses were able to open immediately after the hurricanes and wildfires past year, 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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