These are the main global risks for 2024 according to the World Economic Forum

1,490 world leaders indicated what the greatest threats to the planet are this year and in the next decade. Surprises, but not so many...

global risks
Climate change is the main concern for the future, according to a World Economic Forum survey, followed by disinformation and fake news.

As it does annually, the World Economic Forum (WEF) publishes the Global Risk Report 2024 (Global Risk Report 2024), a Report that presents the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), which collects the responses of almost 1,500 global leaders from academia, business, government, the international community and civil society and experts in specific topics.

The report describes the most severe global risks for economies and societies through three time frames (present, 2 years and 10 years) to support decision makers (governments, entrepreneurs, etc.) in balancing current crises and longer-term priorities in the context of those influential forces.

The survey shows a predominantly negative view of the world in the short term, and it is expected to get worse in the long term.

More than half of respondents (54%) anticipate some instability and a moderate risk of global disasters in the short term. Within 10 years, the outlook is extremely negative, since about two-thirds of respondents see a very turbulent picture.

The four forces of global risks

    The WEF invited the 1,490 respondents to evaluate the likely impact (severity) of global risks over a one-, two- and ten-year horizon to illustrate the potential development of individual global risks over time and identify key areas of concern.

    The WEF defines as "global risk" the possibility that if an event or condition happens, it would negatively impact a significant proportion of the world's GDP, the population or its natural resources.

    Short and long-term global risks
    Global risks classified by severity in the short and long term, according to 1,490 respondents by the World Economic Forum

    This year's report establishes "structural forces" that are those that will shape the materialisation and management of global risks over the next decade.

    1. Climate change: the possible trajectories related to global warming and its related consequences for terrestrial systems
    2. Technological acceleration: the different paths that emerging technologies can adopt such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), quantum computing or experimentation with brain-computer interfaces, for example
    3. Geopolitical changes: the evolution of the sources of geopolitical power and their concentration, with economic power being one of the most diffuse.
    4. Demographic fork: changes in the size, growth and structure of populations around the world.

    These forcings have a systemic character, that is, they can generate global cascading risks, which increases their dangerousness.

    The five main short-term dangers

    Respondents have stated that extreme weather events and misinformation will be the most important risks in the immediate and short term (2 years), while in the long term (10 years) only the risk related to extreme weather persists in the first place.

    These are the five main dangers for 2024

    • Extreme weather (66%)
    • Disinformation and fake news generated by AI (53%)
    • Social and/or political polarisation (46%)
    • Cost of living (42%)
    • Cyberattacks (39%)
      Global Risk Interconnections
      Map of the interconnections of global risks, according to the WEF. Systemic risk (cascading) can increase the risks to unsuspected levels.

      After experiencing the hottest year in the records, two-thirds of respondents chose extreme weather as the main risk for 2024. The presence of El Niño could continue to set heat records, with extreme heat waves, droughts, forest fires and floods.

      Misinformation and fake news generated by AI and social and/or political polarization follow them in second and third place. Many countries continue to struggle to recover the years of progress lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which creates fertile ground for disinformation and fake news to take root and polarize communities, societies and countries.

      Fake news
      Fake news generated by artificial intelligence, are increasingly common and can deform public opinion in an interested way. This can be very relevant in electoral years.

      As evidenced in the 2023 report, the cost of living and cyberattacks continue to be the main reasons for concern in the general perspectives and appear among the first three concerns of respondents from the public and private sectors, respectively. The cost of living crisis is the most valued by the youngest age groups: it was selected by 55% of respondents aged 39 years or younger, compared to only 28% of those aged 60 or older.

      Other global risks... where the weather is the protagonist

      Although the energy and food crises are among the main risks of 2023, this year less than a fifth of respondents selected the interruption of food supply chains (18%) or the interruption of energy supply chains (14%) as the main concerns for 2024. The survey was conducted in September 2023, so the prospects may have changed since then due to the conflict in the Middle East, especially if hostilities intensify.

      However, a warmer winter in the northern hemisphere, for example, followed by the attenuation of the El Niño cycle during the summer, could partly alleviate the energy price spikes resulting from any escalation of the conflicts between Israel and Gaza or between Russia and Ukraine.

      20 global risks
      The 20 main global risks for the next 2 and 10 years, in order of severity

      The effects of extreme weather conditions can deplete the economic resources available to mitigate climate change and adapt to it. The increase in vulnerabilities, caused by resource scarcity, conflicts and growing polarization, could expose entire societies and economies to crime and corruption. The exponential growth of technology can leave the next generation without a clear path to improve human potential, safety and well-being.

      Undoubtedly, the world needs urgent action for the climate.