Economic and Societal Threats Outweigh Environmental and Technological Risks, Says World Economic Forum Survey

Economic and Societal Threats Outweigh Environmental and Technological Risks, Says World Economic Forum Survey

(IN BRIEF) A survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, involving over 11,000 business leaders from 110 countries, has revealed that economic and societal threats, such as economic downturns, inflation, and declining social cohesion, are the most significant risks in G20 countries over the next two years. This finding comes amidst escalating global political tensions and persistent inflation in major economies. An economic downturn ranked as the top risk among G20 business leaders, with inflation, labor/talent shortages, energy supply issues, and social cohesion erosion also being top concerns. Interestingly, environmental risks were less prominent, with technological threats only appearing three times in the top five rankings. The survey suggests a common concern for both advanced and emerging economies, emphasizing the need for businesses to address both short-term and long-term risks effectively.

(PRESS RELEASE) ZURICH, 15-Nov-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — According to new data from the World Economic Forum, economic and societal threats – such as economic downturn, inflation and an erosion of social cohesion – rank among the biggest risks in G20 countries over the next two years, based on a survey of business leaders globally.

The Executive Opinion Survey gathered the views of more than 11,000 business leaders from over 110 countries between April and August 2023. This year’s survey highlights how, even before the current conflict in the Middle East, increasingly intertwined economic and societal risks were perceived as the biggest concerns in G201 countries against a backdrop of escalating global political tensions and persistent inflationary environments in many major economies.

An economic downturn ranked as the most commonly cited risk by G20 business leaders this year, and was identified as the top risk in 13 of the G20 countries. Inflation, labor and/or talent shortages, energy supply shortages and an erosion of social cohesion and wellbeing were also identified among the top five risks to G20 countries in the near term.

As G20 countries prepare for COP28 in Dubai following a year of record-breaking global temperatures and severe weather-related events, environmental risks have been outweighed by other concerns in this year’s results. In a continuation of last year’s data, environmental risks – such as extreme weather events and failure of climate change adaptation – were cited just eight times in this year’s top five risks across G20 countries. Technological risks, including threats relating to artificial intelligence, appear only three times in the G20 top five rankings.

In a broader context, the findings highlight strikingly common concerns between advanced economies and emerging markets. An “economic downturn” was ranked as the top risk across all regions, while “extreme weather events” is the only environmental risk to make the top 10 this year across all of the high income, upper middle income, lower middle income and low income country groups.

“Short-term risks such as economic and labor market-related ones dominate the global agenda today. It is important for companies to respond to these challenges keeping a balanced perspective on short and longer-term risks. Businesses may feel they have little control over existential threats such as climate change. However, it is critical for companies to explore ways to mitigate these risks while at the same time responding to the immediate challenges”. Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer

Carolina Klint, Chief Commercial Officer, Europe, Marsh McLennan, said: “Acute economic and societal risks continue to worry G20 business leaders in the near term. While rightly addressing these immediate concerns, they should also remain mindful that, by overlooking significant technological risks, they could leave their organizations vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated cyber and AI-related threats which may profoundly affect their prosperity and the communities in which they are based.”

The Executive Opinion Survey is conducted by the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society. Marsh McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group are partners of the Centre and the Global Risks Report series.

1 Excluding China and Russia.

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer serving people and businesses in more than 200 countries and territories. Founded 150 years ago, Zurich is transforming insurance. In addition to providing insurance protection, Zurich is increasingly offering prevention services such as those that promote wellbeing and enhance climate resilience.

Reflecting its purpose to ‘create a brighter future together,’ Zurich aspires to be one of the most responsible and impactful businesses in the world. It is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050 and has the highest-possible ESG rating from MSCI. In 2020, Zurich launched the Zurich Forest project to support reforestation and biodiversity restoration in Brazil.

The Group has about 60,000 employees and is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information is available at

About Marsh McLennan
Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC) is the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people. The Company’s more than 85,000 colleagues advise clients in 130 countries. With annual revenue of over $20 billion, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment through four market-leading businesses. Marsh provides data driven risk advisory services and insurance solutions to commercial and consumer clients. Guy Carpenter develops advanced risk, reinsurance and capital strategies that help clients grow profitably and pursue emerging opportunities. Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations redefine the world of work, reshape retirement and investment outcomes, and unlock health and wellbeing for a changing workforce. Oliver Wyman serves as a critical strategic, economic and brand advisor to private sector and governmental clients. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Media Contact:

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SOURCE: Zurich Insurance Group


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