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The Top Global Risks in 2019



The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

The suits are pressed and the jets are gassed up, as global political and business leaders prepare to converge in Davos for the World Economic Forum.

To prep the wide variety of world leaders attending the summit, the organization has just published its most recent edition of the Global Risks Report. The highly anticipated annual presentation puts the world’s most pressing issues into focus, giving a sense of what is top-of-mind for global decision-makers.

Below are the top five risks highlighted in this year’s report.

Visualizing the Top Global Risks in 2019

The World’s Evolving Risk Landscape

The report looks at two specific ways of evaluating global risks:

  1. The likelihood of an event occurring
  2. The impact or severity of an event, should it occur

And over recent years, it’s clear that the composition of these top threats has evolved.

top global risks over time

In 2009, the world was still reeling from the global financial crisis, so economic concerns were naturally at the forefront of discussions.

Today, the most likely scenarios to play out in the near future involve extreme weather events and natural disasters. Also trending upward are cyber-security threats and concerns over the security of personal data.

Risk Perception

Each year, the Global Risks Perception Survey looks at which risks are viewed by global decision-makers as increasing in the coming year.

global risks survey 2019

Some clear themes emerge from the responses:

A Breakdown in Geopolitical Cooperation
From trade wars to the dissolution of weapons treaties, cooperation between countries is on the decline. Leaders are concerned that this divergent geopolitical climate may continue to inhibit collective progress on important global challenges.

Technological Instabilities
As the influence of technology creeps into more aspects of everyday life, cyber-attacks and lax cybersecurity protocols are becoming more of a concern. In one dramatic example information theft, multiple breaches of India’s government ID database reportedly left the information of over 1 billion registered citizens exposed. Technology is influencing society in other ways too, such as the pervasive issue of “fake news”.

Polarization of Government and Society
One of the major themes of this year’s forum will be addressing increasing polarization in many countries.

Where opposing political groups previously expressed frustration with each other, they now express fear and anger.

– Global Risks Report 2019

Gauging the National Sentiment

The report also looks at questions related to human happiness too.

One might ask, “Is the world becoming a better or worse place?” That, of course, is a complicated question, and one that is influenced by geography and socioeconomic standing.

tale of two countries

Survey data also shows that when people are asked to compare their lives to their parents’ generation, the answers vary greatly from country to country.

The prevailing opinion in China is that things are improving, whereas nearly 60% of French respondents had a pessimistic view of the realities facing their generation. While France has a uniquely gloomy outlook on the future, this uncertainty is reflected in the opinion of citizens in many other developed democracies as well.

In Davos, global leaders will be pondering a similar question: How do we move towards a brighter future for the next generation when the collective will for tackling global problems appears to be weakening?

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Visualized: Food Waste in the United States

This chart visualizes the flow of the 80 millions tons of food waste in the United States in 2021, using data from ReFED.



the preview image for a sankey diagram that follows the sources of food waste in america to their destinations

Visualized: Food Waste in the United States

This was originally posted on the Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Did you know that there is more than 80 million tons of food wasted in the U.S. every year?

To explore where this waste came from and where it went, this graphic by Selin Oğuz visualizes the flow of food waste in the U.S. in 2021 using data from ReFED.

Following Waste from Source to Destination

The biggest source of food waste in the U.S. stemmed from residential households in 2021, accounting for more than 50% of the total.

Farms and the food service industry followed, each accounting for more than 13 million U.S. tons (short tons) of food waste in the same year.

SourcesWeight, U.S. Short TonsShare of Total
Food Service13.6M16.9%

But where did all of this food waste end up?

The data shows us that the answer is primarily landfills, followed by compost and being left unharvested, which occurs due to reasons such as market variability, insufficient labor, or food safety concerns.

What Food Waste Means for the Environment

Whether it’s as a result of spoilage, poor planning, or unrealistic cosmetic standards for produce, food waste squanders valuable resources—such as water, energy, and labor—and intensifies global hunger and food insecurity, according to the United Nations.

Food waste is also a huge source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, contributing to climate change. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 190 million U.S. tons of GHG emissions result from food waste annually.

To put that number into perspective, that is equivalent to the annual emissions of 42 coal power plants.

Overall, the data highlights that food waste occurs at every stage of the food supply chain. Reducing this waste, especially where it is prominently high, can be crucial in achieving food system sustainability in the U.S. and beyond.

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