INSIGHT by Aylin Elci, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum


Unemployment is main concern among executives, closely followed by infectious diseases, while fiscal crisis is third as top risks for doing business

Climate risks such as natural catastrophes and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are moving up the list

The findings of Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020 are based on a survey of over 12,000 business leaders from 127 countries; discover live interactive data here

The data is released ahead of the World Economic Forum’s inaugural Jobs Reset Summit (20-23 October) which aims to shape inclusive, fair and sustainable economies, societies and workplaces.


 

| Unemployment is the main concern for business executives globally, with fiscal crisis – the top concern in 2019 – coming third, according to the World Economic Forum’s interactive map on Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020.
Infectious diseases progressed 28 spots and is the second most recurring risk, appearing in the top 10 in all regions except South Asia. Surveyed regions include East Asia and the Pacific, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa. The survey pulls 30 risks, including terrorist attacks, extreme weather events and state collapse or crisis.

While the top risks are mostly related to economics, climate-related risks are causing greater concern this year, with natural catastrophes (up seven places), extreme weather events (up five), biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (up eight), and failure of climate-change adaptation (up two) featuring more prominently. Other significant changes include human-made environmental catastrophes (down six), failure of urban planning (down seven), and terrorist attacks (down nine).

 

| “The employment disruptions caused by the pandemic, rising automation and the transition to greener economies are fundamentally changing labour markets. As we emerge from the crisis, leaders have a remarkable opportunity to create new jobs, support living wages, and reimagine social safety nets to adequately meet the challenges in the labour markets of tomorrow”, says Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum.

| “COVID-19 is distracting us from certain long-term risks that will be around long after the current crisis is resolved. But the pandemic is also having the positive effect of leading many to reassess priorities. This, I hope, will ensure that businesses advance their risk resilience strategies and result in decisive and impactful action to combat existential risks like climate change,” said Peter Giger, Group Chief Risk Officer, Zurich Insurance Group.

| “The COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on organizational resilience. As firms look to the future, they are matching their risk and resilience arrangements with a threat landscape marked by significant customer and workforce behavioural shifts. Just as economic and climate concerns will require firms to refocus business plans, a greater reliance on digital infrastructures will mean a marked increase in cyber risk exposures. To optimize recovery, organizations will need to build greater preparedness into their business models in order to be more resilient in the face of future disruptions,” said John Doyle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marsh.

|“The global pandemic has unleashed untold damage to our economies and societies. Business leaders in Asia have recognized that risk in their response to the Forum’s survey, with infectious diseases appearing as the number one risk for the region. As new partners to the initiative, we are working to better understand the interconnections between the risks perceptions of business leaders and their broader multistakeholder community. What we already know is that tackling the intersecting risks of pandemic, financial risks, and climate change will be a cornerstone of the desired new normal,” said Lee Hyung Hee President, Social Value Committee, SK Group.

 

© World Economic Forum

 

| Methodology

The findings of the Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020 are based on 12,012 responses from business leaders in 127 countries. The respondents were presented with a core list of 30 global risks and asked to select “the five global risks that you believe to be of most concern for doing business in your country within the next 10 years”. This question is included in the annual Executive Opinion Survey, which is a part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. The 2020 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report will be published on 18 November.