Interview: "Coordination, cohesion are critical" in preparing for coming global risks -- WEF managing director

2023-January-12 14:38 By: Xinhua

by Martina Fuchs

GENEVA, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Facing short-term risks like the soaring cost of living and long-term ones as climate change, countries need to work together to avoid "resource rivalries" and adopt a multi-stakeholder approach, the World Economic Forum (WEF) managing director has said.

"We believe that coordination and cohesion are critical if we are to prepare for these risks in the right way, in the most efficient way," Saadia Zahidi told Xinhua in a video interview after the WEF released its Global Risks Report 2023 on Wednesday.

According to the report, conflict and geo-economic tensions have triggered a series of deeply interconnected global risks, with the cost of living crisis being the most significant short-term risk. At the same time, the failure of climate mitigation and climate adaptation is the most considerable long-term concern.

The WEF official explained that the report reviewed three timeframes: the currently unfolding risks and recent shocks, the next two years and a 10-year time frame.

"Right now, it's very clear: it's all about food and energy and cost of living," said Zahidi. "There is this perception that we will continue to face high inflation constraints and concern around livelihoods and jobs."

"In the longer term, however, the top 10 risks are completely dominated by climate," she added.

According to the WEF's report drawing on the views of over 1,200 global risk experts, policymakers and industry leaders, energy, inflation, food and security crises are back to the fore, creating a "polycrisis" of a cluster of related global risks with unpredictable consequences. The window for action on the most serious long-term threats is closing rapidly, and concerted, collective action is urgently needed.

The report came days before the Jan. 16-20 WEF Davos meeting, which will convene world leaders from politics, business, civil society and the media under the theme: "Cooperation in a Fragmented World."

Stressing the importance of cooperation, Zahidi said: "Many leaders are focused on the short-term, they're looking inward at their own organizations or their own countries, and it is extremely important that we restart thinking about the future of global humanity."

Zahidi called on world leaders to improve risk foresight capabilities and consider both short and long-term risks, and urged governments and businesses to "work on cross-sector preparedness."

"It is important that we rebuild international cooperation. It is simply impossible for any single government, no matter how large or small, to deal with some of these issues on its own," she noted.

When asked about China's role in jointly addressing global challenges and further promoting multilateralism, Zahidi said China can boost worldwide growth and inject optimism in the medium and long term.

"In addition, given the size of China's economy, it is clear that the steps that China takes on climate and nature will have global implications," Zahidi added.

Editor: WJH
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