Economic distress and social discontent will rise over the next 18 months unless there are efforts to manage the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, World Economic Forum (WEF) has said.
These are the findings of Covid-19 outlook report published on Tuesday by the World Economic Forum in partnership with Marsh & McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group.
The report taps into the views of nearly 350 senior risk-professionals who were asked to look at the next 18 months and rank their biggest concerns in terms of likelihood and impact for the world and for business. The immediate economic fallout from COVID-19 dominates companies' risks perceptions. These range from a prolonged recession to the weakening fiscal position of major economies, tighter restrictions on the cross-border movement of goods and people, and the collapse of a major emerging market.
In examining the interconnections between risks, the report also calls on leaders to act now against an avalanche of future systemic shocks such as the climate crisis, geopolitical turbulence, rising inequality, strains on people's mental health, gaps in technology governance and health systems under continued pressure.
The key findings of the report include "prolonged global recession", "high unemployment", "another outbreak of infectious disease" and protectionism dominate the list of near-term worries for companies.
It argues that "We are not ready for the knock-on effect of far-reaching environmental, societal and technological risks. But a "green recovery" and more resilient, "cohesive, inclusive and equal societies" can emerge if leaders act now".
John Doyle, President and CEO, Marsh, said: "Even before the COVID-19 crisis, organizations were faced with a highly complex and interconnected global risk landscape. From cyber threats to supply chains, as well as the well-being of their colleagues, businesses will now rethink many of the structures they formerly relied on".
"To create the conditions for a speedier recovery and a more resilient future, governments and the private sector need to work together more effectively. Along with major investments to improve health systems, infrastructure, and technology, one of the outcomes of this crisis has to be that societies become more resilient and capable of withstanding future pandemics and other major shocks", he added.
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