Leaders recognise environmental risks are biggest facing world

Posted on 15 January 2020

The top five biggest challenges facing the world over the next decade are, for the first time, all related to the environment, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2020, released today.

The report, based on a survey of more than 750 decision-makers from across business, governments and charities, found that of all the risks facing the world this year, failure to take action on climate change, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, natural disasters and human-made environmental disasters are seen as the most likely to happen.

Failure to take action on climate change, biodiversity loss, extreme weather and water crises were also seen as among the top five risks in terms of the size of the impact they could have.

WWF welcomes the report’s findings, which clearly indicate that the emergency facing our environment is rightly at the forefront of the minds of many of the world’s most influential people, and that urgent change is needed to protect our planet.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said:

“This report demonstrates that leaders are finally recognising the catastrophic threats facing the planet and our future - but they still need to act.

“Unless urgent action is taken, risks related to climate change and loss of nature have the potential to harm millions of people, destabilize the global economy which relies on nature for services worth USD$125 trillion every year, and leave businesses - and the communities and economies that depend on them - vulnerable to collapse. We ignore these risks at our peril.”

In 2020, governments have the opportunity to step up their commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate, renew their commitments to the environment under the Sustainable Development Goals, agree a new global biodiversity framework and negotiate the world’s first ever treaty to protect ocean life on the high seas. 

To avoid environmental and human catastrophe, WWF and partners are calling on world leaders to commit to a New Deal for Nature and People this year which aims to halt nature loss and set nature on the path to recovery by 2030.