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World Economic Forum publishes report looking at how COVID-19 risks may develop

‘Prolonged global recession’, ‘high unemployment’, ‘another outbreak of infectious disease’, and protectionism dominate the list of near-term worries for companies, according to the World Economic Forum’s new report, COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications.

The report, produced in partnership with Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, is based on the views of nearly 350 senior risk professionals who were asked to look at the next 18 months and rank their biggest concerns in terms of likelihood and impact for the world and for business. The immediate economic fallout from COVID-19 dominates companies’ risks perceptions. These range from a prolonged recession to the weakening fiscal position of major economies, tighter restrictions on the cross-border movement of goods and people, and the collapse of a major emerging market.

In examining the interconnections between risks, the report also calls on leaders to act now against an avalanche of future systemic shocks such as the climate crisis, geopolitical turbulence, rising inequality, strains on people’s mental health, gaps in technology governance, and health systems under continued pressure.

These longer-term risks will have serious and far-reaching implications for societies, the environment, and the governance of breakthrough technologies. It reinforces the calls made in the Global Risks Report 2020, where a multi-stakeholder community rated environmental risks as being among the top five global risks for the next decade, and also warned of the extraordinary stress on health systems.

The latest update provides a preliminary picture of familiar risks, which may be amplified by the crisis and new ones that may emerge. Two-thirds of respondents identified a “prolonged global recession” as a top concern for business. One-half identified bankruptcies and industry consolidation, failure of industries to recover and a disruption of supply chains as crucial worries.

With the accelerated digitization of the economy in the midst of the pandemic, cyber attacks and data fraud are also major threats – according to one-half of respondents – while the breakdown of IT infrastructure and networks is also a top concern. Geopolitical disruptions and tighter restrictions on the movement of people and goods are high on the list of concerns.

A second report, Challenges and Opportunities in the Post-COVID-19 World draws on the experience and insights of thought leaders, scientists and researchers to outline emerging opportunities to build a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world.
Read COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and Its Implications here.



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