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The greatest threat to the stability of the world economy in the next decade comes from the risk of international conflicts, according to the report 'Global Risks 2015? of the World Economic Forum, which also places environmental risks above economic ones.
With a ten-year perspective, the report assesses 28 risks of a global nature that could cause significant negative impacts on industries and countries, if they materialize. Risks are grouped into five categories - economic, environmental, geopolitical, social, and technological - and are measured both in terms of their likelihood of occurrence and their potential impact.
After examining their possible effects, the nearly 900 experts who took part in the survey considered that the water crises constitute the greatest risk that the world faces. Along with this and conflicts between states, there are also concerns about the rapid and massive spread of infectious diseases (second place), weapons of mass destruction (third place) and the lack of adaptation to climate change (fifth place).
Environmental and economic risks It also highlights that there are a greater number of environmental risks than economic risks, because experts value much more negatively the preparations to face challenges such as extreme meteorological phenomena and climate change, and not so much a decrease of the fears aroused by chronic economic risks, such as unemployment, underemployment or fiscal crises, which remained relatively stable in 2014.
Water ranks eighth for probability and first for impact.
It was one of the four risks - along with interstate conflicts, lack of adaptation to climate change, and chronic unemployment - that is considered highly probable and very devastating. A decade ago, the global risks report was dominated by financial concerns and macroeconomic concerns: China's pace of growth, sharp swings in stock and bond prices, and roller-coaster oil markets.
Water received little attention, and climate change - neglected as a still emerging threat - was the only risk out of 120 in the 2006 report that was deemed too far off for rigorous statistical analysis.
Today, the script is flipped. Respondents to the 2015 survey saw social and environmental risks as the most serious threats to 7 billion people on the planet. In that sense, the World Economic Forum report says that risk increases as global temperature increases, climate change is expected to reduce water availability in southern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the southwestern United States while which also increases the number of severe storms.
Deep engulfing rains or droughts could slash crop yields by 25 percent from mid-century, according to worst-case projections cited by the United Nations climate panel. Water rose as a global priority in the 2015 report, and it also acquired a new designation.
The report reclassified water from an environmental risk to a social risk, an acknowledgment that almost all human activity - from growing wheat and catching fish to preventing bacterial diseases that kill children and feeding industries and communities - it has water at its base. The world is not doing enough, according to the World Economic Forum report.
Although the problems of floods, droughts and inadequate water supplies that were projected more than two decades ago have been realized, little is being done to effectively address possible solutions.