WEF: Strong economic growth to help handle systematic risks
The prospect of strong economic growth in 2018 is a golden opportunity for leaders to address signs of severe weakness in societies, economies, international relations and the environment, according to the 2018 Global Risks Report published on Wednesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The report released every January shares the perspectives of global experts and decision makers on the most significant risks facing the world.
According to the annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) of the report, of the nearly 1,000 respondents asked their views about the trajectory of risks in 2018, 59 percent of their answers pointed to an intensification of risks, compared with 7 percent for declining risks. 
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 nearly 80 percent thought there would be an increase in risks associated with war involving major powers.
Economic risks, on the other hand, featured less prominently this year, leading some experts to worry that the improvement in global GDP growth rates may lead to complacency about persistent structural risks in the global economic and financial systems.
"A widening economic recovery presents us with an opportunity that we cannot afford to squander, to tackle the fractures that we have allowed to weaken the world's institutions, societies and environment. We must take seriously the risk of a global systems breakdown," said Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF.
According to the GRPS, cyber threats are growing in prominence, with large-scale cyber attacks now ranked third in terms of likelihood, while rising cyber-dependency is ranked as the second-most significant driver shaping the global risks landscape over the next 10 years.
John Drzik, president of Marsh Global Risk and Digital, said: "Geopolitical friction is contributing to a surge in the scale and sophistication of cyber attacks. At the same time, cyber exposure is growing as firms are becoming more dependent on technology. While cyber risk management is improving, business and government need to invest far more in resilience efforts."
As in 2017, the environment was by far the greatest concern raised by experts. 
Among the 30 global risks the experts were asked to prioritize in terms of likelihood and impact, all five environmental risks – extreme weather; biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; major natural disasters; man-made environmental disasters; and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation – were ranked highly. Extreme weather events were seen as the single most prominent risk.
Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, said: "Environmental risks, together with a growing vulnerability to other risks, are now seriously threatening the foundation of most of our commons. Unfortunately, we currently observe a 'too-little-too-late' response by governments and organizations to key trends such as climate change... We need to act with a stronger sense of urgency in order to avoid potential system collapse."  
Source(s): Xinhua News Agency