Climate change has overtaken the water crisis as the biggest risk to the world over the next decade, in terms of its potential impact, according to the World Economic Forum.
The body’s Risk 2016 Report said failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation was likely to have a greater impact on the world than weapons of mass destruction, large scale involuntary migration and energy price shocks.
Global warming was also more likely to happen than inter-state conflict and natual disasters, according to the report.
Engineers are well aware of the need to mitigate and reduce the risk of climate change. The ICE, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering last month held a summit on resilience and growth for the world’s future cities.
The Forum said that adaptation and resilience would be crucial to overcoming the global challenges to ensure that today’s risks didn’t become tomorrow’s realities.
“Human activity is one of the biggest drivers of global warming today,” said Zurich Insurance Group chief risk officer Cecilia Reyes. “More needs to be done, there are some good intentions, but the challenge is actually implementing those.
“We have to adapt. We have to take actions today to adapt to the impact of climate change and that is the call for resilience.”
WEF Risks 2016 The changing global risks landscape
The forum produces the risk report annually, and analyses the potential impact and potential likelihood of 29 global risks over the next 10 years.
Data was gathered from almost 750 experts who responded to its global risks perception survey. Respondents were drawn from business, academia, civil society and the public sector and spanned different areas of expertise, geographies and age groups.
This year geopolitical, societal, environmental and economic threats all ranked within the top five risks in terms of impact.
In terms of likelihood, WEF said that most risks had increased this year which increased the magnitude of the global challenges for the next decade. Large scale involuntary migration rose to number one, followed by extreme weather events.
The report has also stressed the interconnectivity of many of the issues, all of which could potentially affect the fragility of an environment and create global consequences.
WEF Risks 2016 Likelihood and Impact top 10s