Report reveals most severe risks facing the world — what can we do?

Climate change, forest fires, aberdare forest, cop27

Residents extinguish the edge of a burning area to stop the spread of fire at Aberdare National Park on February 7, 2022. 

Photo credit: AFP

What you need to know:

  • The Global Risks Report published by the World Economic Forum shows there is a likelihood that having natural disasters and extreme weather events will exacerbate, coming second to the cost of living.
  • Four other environmental and climate risks are also part of the top 10 likely menaces that will affect people.

Environmental risks form the bulk of impending crises that people globally should anticipate in the next two years, a new report has shown.

The Global Risks Report published by the World Economic Forum shows there is a likelihood that having natural disasters and extreme weather events will exacerbate, coming second to the cost of living.

Four other environmental and climate risks are also part of the top 10 likely menaces that will affect people.

In Kenya, the failure to adapt to climate change was the fifth risky impact that will face the country years to come.

At the backdrop of the economic crisis, the report highlights the need for governments to focus on climate-positive adaptation. This will help in linking the exposure to climate change and debt vulnerability.

“Climate and environmental risks are the core focus of global risks perceptions over the next decade – and are the risks for which we are seen to be the least prepared. The lack of deep, concerted progress on climate targets has exposed the divergence between what is scientifically necessary to achieve net zero and what is politically feasible,” said the report

“Growing demands on public-and private-sector resources from other crises will reduce the speed and scale of mitigation efforts over the next two years, alongside insufficient progress towards the adaptation support required for those communities and countries increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change,” it added.

The report shows that Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse is one of the fastest deteriorating global risks that will happen in the next decade.

This comes less than a month since government leaders attending the 15th Conference of Parties (COP12) in Canada ended the conference with a promise to protect 30 per cent of Biodiversity by 2030.

At the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) whose main focus is on climate change, world leaders also agreed to come up with a funding facility for Loss and Damage.

“A new financing mechanism was tentatively agreed at COP27 although the contribution to this fund by high-emitting economies remains unclear. Even as more funding is unlocked, there is a risk of ignoring or avoiding climate-proofing against future disasters, as governments scramble to provide relief and support in disaster-hit areas,” said the report.

It is unfortunate that some governments may not manage financing financials shows and the report shows that it may go down the further in the next two years

“There is a risk of retreat by insurers from some areas of natural catastrophe coverage, with the gap in insurance estimated to have grown from $117 billion in 2020 to $161 billion in 2021,” the report reveals.

The report also highlights the need for strengthening natural ecosystems since most of them play an underrated role in the global economy and overall planetary health.
“Nature loss and climate change are intrinsically interlinked – a failure in one sphere will cascade into the other. Without significant policy change or investment, the interplay between climate change impacts, biodiversity loss, food security and natural resource consumption will accelerate ecosystem collapse, threaten food supplies and livelihoods in climate-vulnerable economies, amplify the impacts of natural disasters, and limit further progress on climate mitigation,” says the report.

Apart from Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, the report also indicates that one of the risks manifesting currently is the failure of countries to set net zero targets. This means that countries are still not ambitious to come up with targets that will see them strike a balance between harmful greenhouse gases coming in and getting out of the atmosphere.

“The compounding effect of a changing climate is already being felt, magnifying humanitarian challenges such as food insecurity, and adding another hefty bill to already stretched fiscal balances,” said the report

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