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CEOs zoom in on ESG and climate change issues as world enters third pandemic year

Climate risks dominate global concerns as the world enters the third year of the pandemic, according to a new World Economic Forum report shared with ESG Insight today.

The Global Risks Report 2022 sets out that 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 report explores four areas of emerging risk: cybersecurity; competition in space; a disorderly climate transition; and migration pressures, each requiring global coordination for successful management.

“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,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum.

Global leaders must come together and adopt a coordinated multistakeholder approach to tackle unrelenting global challenges and build resilience ahead of the next crisis.

Saadia Zahidi

Carolina Klint, Risk Management Leader, Continental Europe, Marsh, added to that: “As companies recover from the pandemic, they are rightly sharpening their focus on organizational resilience and ESG credentials.”

“With cyber threats now growing faster than our ability to eradicate them permanently, it is clear that neither resilience nor governance are possible without credible and sophisticated cyber risk management plans,” Klint added.

“Similarly, organizations need to start understanding their space risks, particularly the risk to satellites on which we have become increasingly reliant, given the rise in geopolitical ambitions and tensions,” she continued.

Insurance view

In the global insurance space, Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer at industry giant Zurich Insurance Group, said the climate crisis remains the biggest long-term threat facing humanity.

“Failure to act on climate change could shrink global GDP by one-sixth and the commitments taken at COP26 are still not enough to achieve the 1.5 C goal. It is not too late for governments and businesses to act on the risks they face and to drive an innovative, determined and inclusive transition that protects economies and people,” Giger said.

The report closes with reflections on year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, yielding fresh insights on national-level resilience.

The chapter also draws on the World Economic Forum’s communities of risk experts – the Chief Risk Officers Community and Global Future Council on Frontier Risks – to offer practical advice for implementing resilience for organizations.

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