Officials and commentators are using unprecedented terminiology to describe the current state of the world, the ailing global economy and the subsequent anxiety and uncertainty that it has produced.
Phrases such as "major threats", "confluence of crises", "convergence of disasters", and "overlapping global threats" is a clear indication that humanity is sitting on a volcano without the slightest idea of when it might erupt.
Centre to ongoing discussions about the global state of affairs is the Russian invasion of Ukraine — notably, its repercussions on energy and food supplies, and resulting waves of inflation, as well as the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate and environmental threats.
These discussions featured prominently during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos held in January this year but unfortunately upstaged other important issues.
This is reminiscent of former US President Dwight Eisenhower’s distinction between urgent and important problems: "The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent." It is the former distinction that makes it possible to categorise tasks in order to prioritise and plan them.
10 urgent dangers
There are 10 dangers that require urgent and swift action over the next two years, according to the WEF’s 2023 report. Ranked in order of urgency, these threats are:
1) The cost of living
2) Natural disasters and severe weather phenomena
3) Geo-economic conflicts
4) Failure to mitigate climate change
5) Disintegration of social cohesion and polarisation
6) Large-scale environmental incidents
7) Failure to adapt to climate change
8) The spread of cybercrime and the absence of cybersecurity
9) The depletion of natural resources
10) Large-scale forced migration.
The Global Risks Report 2023 points to a fragile, volatile landscape: a potential new era of “polycrisis”. 2023 is a make or break moment for leaders to invest in resilience, growth & cooperation to manage known risks and prepare for future shocks. @wef @borgebrende pic.twitter.com/YdkGAk4pun— Saadia Zahidi (@zahidi) January 11, 2023
It is expected that this order of priorities will change over the next 10 years and climate, environment, global warming, and biodiversity issues will climb back to the top of the priority list.
It seems that the “world has entered a vicious cycle where economic, political, and social difficulties risk becoming intertwined,” according to WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi.