ISLAMABAD: The ‘Global Risks Report 2022’ has listed five risks facing Pakistan with top risk of debt crisis, followed by extreme weather events, failure to stabilise price trajectories, failure of cyber security measures and human-made environmental damage.

The report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday, presents the top five risks for each of 124 economies surveyed by the forum’s Executive Opinion Survey between May and September 2021.

According to the report, the ‘Risk 1’ indicates the most frequently selected risk in each country. Rising commodity prices, inflation and debt are the emerging risks. Moreover, with another spike in Covid-19 cases towards the end of 2021, the pandemic continues to stifle countries’ ability to facilitate a sustained recovery, the report says.

Economic challenges flowing from the Covid-19 pandemic persist and the outlook remains weak as the global economy was expected to be 2.3 per cent smaller by 2024 than it would have been without the pandemic.

Climate risks dominate global concerns as the world enters the third year of the pandemic. According to the report, while the top long-term risks relate to climate, the top shorter-term global concerns include societal divides, livelihood crises and mental health deterioration.

Additionally, most experts believe a global economic recovery will be volatile and uneven over the next three years.

The economic fallout from the pandemic is compounding with labour market imbalances, protectionism, and widening digital, education and skills gaps that risk splitting the world into divergent trajectories.

In some countries, rapid vaccine rollout, successful digital transformations and new growth opportunities could mean a return to pre-pandemic trends in the short term and the possibility of a more resilient outlook over a longer horizon.

Short-term domestic pressures will make it harder for governments to focus on long-term priorities and will limit the political capital allocated to global concerns.

Growing insecurity resulting from economic hardship, intensifying impacts of climate change and political instability are already forcing millions to leave their homes in search of a better future abroad. “Involuntary migration” is a top long-term concern for Global Risks Perception Survey respondents, while 60 per cent of them see “migration and refugees” as an area where international mitigation efforts have “not started” or are in “early development”. In 2020, there were over 34 million people displaced abroad globally from conflict alone — a historical high.

Growing dependency on digital systems — intensified by Covid-19 — has altered societies. Over the last 18 months, industries have undergone rapid digitalisation, workers have shifted to remote working where possible, and platforms and devices facilitating this change have proliferated.

At the same time, cyber security threats are growing — in 2020, malware and ransomware attacks increased by 358pc and 435pc, respectively, — and are outpacing societies’ ability to effectively prevent or respond to them.

Lower barriers to entry for cyber threat actors, more aggressive attack methods, a dearth of cyber security professionals and patchwork governance mechanisms are all aggravating the risk.

“Health and economic disruptions are compounding social cleavages. This is creating tensions at a time when collaboration within societies and among the international community will be fundamental to ensure a more even and rapid global recovery. 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,” said WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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