Climate change has again topped the list of emerging risks in a global survey by Axa, and for the first time was the number one concern for experts in all regions of the world and the US general public.
Axa’s ninth edition of its Future Risks Report is based on responses from 4500 risk experts and a representative sample of 20,000 people, including 1000 in Australia.
This year, cyber security risk was knocked down a notch to third place by the number two risk: geopolitical instability.
Pandemic and infectious diseases was knocked to fifth spot after energy risks, from third place last year.
Axa says 95% of experts surveyed expect geopolitical tensions to persist and spread throughout the world. As an indirect consequence, energy-related risks shot to fourth place, up from 17th place last year.
“Economic risks are increasing and fuelling social tensions. For the first time, experts rank three economic risks in their top 10: financial instability, macroeconomic deterioration and monetary and fiscal stress,” it said.
The full top ten risk rankings were: 1. Climate change 2. Geopolitical instability 3. Cyber security risks 4. Energy risks 5. Pandemics and infectious diseases 6. Social tensions and movements 7. Natural resources and biodiversity risks 8. Financial stability risks 9. Macro-economic risks 10. Monetary and fiscal policy risks.
The risk report describes an “overheated world, where crises are stacked on each other” and a “heightened sense of vulnerability among populations and decline in trust in major institutions to find sustainable solutions”.
“The public believes that the level of preparation of public authorities for certain risks – such as climate change, cyber or geopolitical tensions – is insufficient,” it said.
Axa CEO Thomas Buberl says the insurance sector in particular can contribute its prevention and protection expertise.
“These trends point to an additional risk, the feeling of powerlessness, at a time when we need the mobilisation of all actors to provide collective, innovative and coordinated responses,” he said. “At Axa, we are determined to play our part to the full.”