EFEGeneva, Switzerland

The climate crisis and social inequality, global issues that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, are the main risks facing humanity in the next decade, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum, which also warned of failures in cybersecurity and the debt crisis.

The WEF warned that “a divergent recovery” from the pandemic due to uneven distribution of and access to vaccines “risks deepening global divisions at a time when societies and the international community urgently need to collaborate,” managing director, Saadia Zahidi, said in the organization’s 17th report.

“Widening disparities within and between countries will not only make it more difficult to control

COVID-19 and its variants, but will also risk stalling, if not reversing, joint action against shared threats that the world cannot afford to overlook,” Zahidi said.

At a press conference to present the report, WEF chairman Borge Brende warned that the “planet is burning” and urged global leaders to finally and effectively address the biggest challenge of our generation.

“The cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action,” Brende said, while Zurich Insurance Group chief risk officer Peter Giger stressed failure to act could reduce global GDP by 16%.

While tackling global warming is the main priority, the WEF also cautioned against enacting policies that would further entrench global inequalities and leave developing countries behind.

“A disorderly climate transition characterized by divergent trajectories worldwide and across sectors will further drive apart countries and bifurcate societies, creating barriers to cooperation.”

“These divergences will complicate the international collaboration needed to address the worsening impacts of climate change, manage migration flows and combat dangerous cyber-risks,” she added.

Zahidi pointed out that increased migration flows will be the main consequence of these divergences, with migrants facing additional obstacles to entry in many countries with increased economic protectionism and new labour market dynamics due to the lingering effects of the pandemic.

“These higher barriers to migration, and their spillover effect on remittances—a critical lifeline for some developing countries—risk precluding a potential pathway to restoring livelihoods, maintaining political stability and closing income and labour gaps.

The report predicts that humanitarian crises will worsen and that resulting “migration pressures will exacerbate international tensions as it is increasingly used as a geopolitical instrument.”

The WEF also pointed out that the second year of the pandemic had gleaned insights into the distinct resilience of governments, businesses and communities, and called for a reflection that would “help ensure that agendas are aligned in achieving a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to tackling critical risks of any nature.” EFE

abc/ks