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WEF's Global Risks Report points out infectious diseases as the greatest risks to the world economy

Pandemics, IT infrastructure breakdown, cybersecurity failure: this week, Davos World Economic Forum discuss what threatens humanity in a post-COVID-19 world and how to deal with this problems

Image: World Economic Forum
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  • According to the experts consulted, health crises such as the one caused by the current pandemic can cause enormous damage to geopolitical stability and aggravate social inequality in the world;
  • There are still other imminent risks. 53% of the interviewees pointed out risks of collapse of the Information Technology infrastructure in a period of three to five years;
  • The growing competition between China and United States may harm other regional powers, which may wish to maintain a strategy of balance between relations with the two countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has confronted the world with the destructive potential of the spread of infectious diseases and, although most nations appear to be learning economic, political and social lessons from this new reality, the proliferation of infectious diseases is the biggest risk factor for the world economy in the next two years, according to the 16th Global Risks Report 2021, of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

According to the experts consulted, health crises such as the one caused by the current pandemic can cause enormous damage to geopolitical stability and aggravate social inequality in the world.

Image: Global Risks Report 2021

The WEF‘s analysis of how Central and Latin America countries responded to the advancement of the coronavirus sheds a warning signal about governments’ ability to balance the containment of the pandemic and the needs of the economy and public health.

“Countries in Central and Latin America implemented some of the world’s most stringent travel controls and lockdowns, with the virus arriving later than in other areas. However, cultural resistance in some countries, a high degree of employment informality, limited social protection mechanisms and decades of health system underfunding resulted in lower levels of compliance, stretched health systems and high mortality rates”, says the report.

Klaus Schwab, WEF’s director, said in a recent interview that the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will span generations.

“The next generation will suffer not only from inherited indebtedness, but also from weaknesses in the social and educational systems,” he said.

Pandemics are not the only threat

There are still other imminent risks. 53% of the interviewees pointed out risks of collapse of the Information Technology infrastructure in a period of three to five years and 52.7% cited extreme climatic events as points of concern.

Image: Global Risks Report 2021
Image: Global Risks Report 2021

The Global Risks Report 2021 was produced by the WEF in partnership with consultancy Marsh McLennan, the insurance company Zurich and the universities of Oxford, Singapore and Pennsylvania. You can access the full report here.

China’s president defends collective solutions to global crises at the opening of Davos

The “Davos Agenda”, the virtual version of the Davos World Economic Forum, has started on monday, 25th. The event, which will have sessions until Friday 29, will be attended by 1,500 authorities, entrepreneurs and academics and will focus its debates on a post-COVID-19 agenda, focusing on innovative solutions to contain the pandemic and drive a global recovery

The opening speech was given by the President of China, Xi Jinping. In his speech, Xi Jinping stated that humanity will emerge stronger from the pandemic if it acts together, eliminating ideological prejudices and promoting multilateralism, “in order to jointly pursue a path of peaceful coexistence, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation”, he said.

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The Global Risks Report 2021, however, analyzes that the growing competition between China and United States may harm other regional powers, which may wish to maintain a strategy of balance between relations with the two countries.

In the case of Latin American countries, “deepening China’s economic ties can rival historic alliances based on security and cultural connections with the United States. Forced to choose sides, governments may face economic or diplomatic consequences,” says the report.

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