THE RISK of interstate conflict has become the biggest threat to the stability of the world in the next ten years, the World Economic Forum has warned.
According to the WEF’s annual report on global risks, conflicts with regional consequences is now the biggest and most likely risk to endanger countries and businesses, exceeding the likelihood of extreme weather events, failure of national governance systems, state collapse or crisis and high unemployment.
This is the first time in the survey’s ten year history that conflict has topped the list of global threats, while geopolitical risks account for three of the five most likely and two of the most impactful risks in 2015.
With fears over the pro-Russian separatist incursion into Ukraine and the rise of the Islamic State, economic threats have been overtaken as the biggest concern facing world and business leaders.
“Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world again faces the risk of major conflict between states,” said Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, lead economist at the World Economic Forum. “The means to wage such conflict, whether through cyberattack, competition for resources or sanctions and other economic tools, is broader than ever.
Other major risks in terms of impact include the spread of infectious diseases, weapons of mass destruction and failure of climate change adaptation.
John Drzik, president of global risk and specialties at Marsh, warned that the rapid pace of innovation in emerging technologies, from synthetic biology to artificial intelligence, will also have far-reaching societal, economic and ethical implications.
“Innovation is critical to global prosperity, but also creates new risks. We must anticipate the issues that will arise from emerging technologies, and develop the safeguards and governance to prevent avoidable disasters,” he said.