Global risks: Climate change, financial crisis and inequality

My previous blogpost already mentioned the World Economic Forum’s recently released “Global Risks Report“. According to this report, cliamte change, the financial crisis and inequality are today’s three biggest risks and together form a multifaceted economic, societal and environmental crisis whose symptoms and challenges are highly interdependent. In the following, I would like to highlight some interesting first insights from the comprehensive 80-page report (click images to enlarge!) .

The “Global Risks Landscape” ranks the 50 studied risks by their likelihood to occur in the next ten years and impact if they were to occur. Here, income disparity has the highest likelihood to occur which doesn’t surprise given the growing gap between rich and poor around the world. The privatization of profits during the boom years and the nationalization of losses during the financial crisis intensified this risk. As already mentioned, in the face of the financial crisis and climate change, the global fiscal imbalances and rising carbon emissions are also on top in terms of their likelihood to occur.


The “Risk Interconnection Map” highlights the interdependence of the studied risks in today’s globalized and connected world. It also shows the possible systemic impact of failures in financial markets, global governance, climate change adaptation or critical systems.


Moreover, the detailed analysis of the more than 1,000 respondents’ assessment of economic, environmental and societal (as well as the geopolitical and technological) risks by gender, age and expertise interestingly shows that generally women perceive these risks as more severe than men, that younger people see stronger impacts of these risks than older people, and that the discrepancy in risk assessment between experts and non-experts is highest for environmental risks. The latter confirms the view that climate scientists are more concerned about global warming than politics, media or the public who are less informed about climate change.


Finally, an overview on the economic loss due to selected natural disasters in 2011 highlights the size, the economic damage and the rate of occurance of various types of disasters. Unfortunately, it is easy to anticipate how this map will look like in several years or decades given the increasing number of weather extremes and natural disasters caused by climate change.


Posted on January 9, 2013 in Climate Change

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About the Author

Andreas Lindinger is a Vienna-based business consultant, sustainability expert and urban thinker passionate about livable cities, sustainable transportation, renewable energy and civic engagement. Andreas offers a transdisciplinary business, finance and sustainability background, industry expertise in energy, mobility and environmental consulting and broad international experience gained in Vienna, Vancouver, Berlin and Dublin. Make sure to also check out and to follow @lindinger on Twitter.

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