Post #54: What the world worries about

Away from the ballroom networking and ski slopes that comprised much of what last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos was about, we found it a worthwhile exercise to peruse the literature on the organisation’s website. For those unaware, the Forum (or WEF) is a Geneva-based organisation founded in 1971 that is “committed to improving the state of the world” through engaging leaders in all significant fields. 

The WEF website is packed with publications ranging from Incentivising Food Systems to Fast Forward to Decisive Climate Change. Interesting stuff. The report, however, we were drawn to – now in its 15th edition – is the WEF’s publication onGlobal Risks. For any fan of future trends, it makes for essential reading. Note, the publication was written long before coronavirus headlines began to make news and so no reference is made to this; the focus is more on the bigger picture. 

‘Climate action failure’ ranks as the number-one risk in terms of impact and number-two in terms of likelihood (only ‘extreme weather’ is seen as more likely) over the next ten years, per the WEF. Needless to say, more extreme weather may be a consequence of climate action failure. Similarly, water crises (which rank as risk number-five in impact terms) are also likely to be strongly related. If ever a call to arms were needed, then here it is. The logic for governments/ regulators to step uppolicies aimed at increasing the contribution of renewables and decreasing CO2 emissions only grows. If climate change were not enough to worry about, cyber-related issues such as cyberattacks and data fraud/theft also feature in the top-ten of long-term risks. Not only is the world becoming more connected (1m people go online for the first time every day, per the WEF), but artificial intelligence has become “a new frontier for geopolitics.” Cheery stuff. For investors, however, these challenges do create clear opportunities both in the renewable and the data/cyber sphere.

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