Growing dependence on digital processes in the last two years of Coronavirus pandemic has given rise to the risks posed by cybersecurity threats globally, while at the same time widespread youth disillusionment, digital inequality and fracture of inter-state relations are some of the key risks for the Indian economy, according to a survey released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday.
The Global Risks Report 2022, released by the WEF ahead of its online Davos Agenda meeting next week, said climate-related risks are among the biggest concerns in terms of impact, most notably in the long-term – where incidentally five of the top 10 global risks are all climate or environment-related.
The top five risks identified in the report are climate crisis, growing social divides, heightened cyber risks and uneven global recovery, as the pandemic lingers on. A global survey of experts found that only one in six are optimistic and only one in ten believe the global recovery will accelerate.
The report warned that the risks of growing social cleavages will continue to be exacerbated by the pandemic and experts are cautioning that the global economic recovery will likely be uneven and potentially volatile over the coming years.
The economic fallout of the pandemic and diverging recoveries also continue to threaten cooperation on other global challenges – at a time when climate and environmental risks loom large.
Besides, the growing dependence on digital systems -– which has only intensified in the past two years – has heightened the risks posed by digital or cybersecurity threats.
On India, the report said that fracture of interstate relations, debt crises in large economies, widespread youth disillusionment, failure of technology governance and digital inequality are the top five risks identified for the Indian economy by the WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey (EOS).
The top shorter-term global concerns include societal divides, livelihood crises and mental health deterioration, while most experts believe a global economic recovery will be volatile and uneven over the next three years, the WEF said.
The report further said geopolitical tensions are spilling over into the economic sphere and cited examples of India and Japan putting protectionist policies in place during the pandemic.
On risks that have worsened the most since the start of the pandemic, it identified social cohesion erosion, livelihood crises, climate action failure, mental health deterioration, and extreme weather as the top five.
Western companies in sensitive sectors such as technology are encountering increasing difficulties in doing business in China and Russia, and Western countries are themselves restricting investment from geopolitical competitors in strategic sectors, it added.
It also referred to India’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2070 and announced a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. All the largest emitters have now agreed to start phasing out fossil fuels.
“Global leaders must come together and adopt a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach to tackle unrelenting global challenges and build resilience ahead of the next crisis,” WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi said.