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The Global Risks Report 2021

The Global Risks Report 2021

The 16th edition of The Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shares the results of their latest Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), completed by WEF’s more than 650 member-communities, followed by analysis of growing social, economic and industrial divisions, their interconnections and their implications.

The immediate costs of COVID-19 are severe and threatens to scale back years of progress on reducing poverty and inequality; moreover, the damage from COVID-19 has been worsened by long-standing gender, race and income inequalities. This Insight Report underscores that societal cohesion and cooperation are more important than ever to repair societal fractures—manifested as persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, youth disillusionment and geopolitical fragmentation. The Report also explores how governments and businesses can act in the face of these risks, with proposals for strengthening response and enhancing resilience.

Key Insights

  • “Infectious diseases” and “Livelihood crises” were identified among the top 10 risks, in terms of both likelihood and impact. Based on impact, the risk posed by infectious diseases ranks 1st in 2021 compared to 10th in 2020. Livelihood crises, absent from both lists in the previous year, now ranks 7th in terms of impact, and 10th in terms of likelihood.
  • Impact on livelihoods is described as “catastrophic.” Youth, unskilled workers, working parents—especially working mothers—and already disadvantaged minorities have been especially hard hit: in fact, 70% of working women across nine of the world’s largest economies believe their careers will be slowed by the pandemic’s disruption.
  • Regardless of geography and market type, women-owned businesses have been more affected by the pandemic. In Asia and Oceania alone, 23% women-owned businesses compared to 16% of men-owned businesses ceased to operate.
  • Strained health systems and shortfalls in public health, coupled with extreme poverty outcomes, have amplified the pandemic’s impact on the physical well-being of people in low-income households, women and the elderly.
  • Gender-based violence increased globally during the pandemic, and rapes rose in advanced and developing countries alike. Teenage pregnancies are expected to increase. Globally, COVID-19 and its “shadow pandemic” on girls and young women risk reversing 25 years’ worth of global gains in girls’ education, exposing girls to higher chance of underage marriage.
  • Widening of educational, socio-economic and gender inequalities can be expected. Young women face the risk of being kept out of school for household or agricultural work, and not being able to finish their secondary education or not being able to return to work after leaving during the pandemic due to caregiving responsibilities. Recommendations to close the gender gap include adopting measures such as flexible and remote work and implementing programs to address gender-based violence.
  • With governments still debating how to pivot away from emergency to recovery, and with companies anticipating a changed business landscape, there are opportunities to invest in smart, clean and inclusive growth that will improve productivity and delivery of sustainable agendas.

This Report was originally published on the WEF website.

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