Which Global Risks Have Gotten Worsen Since the Start of COVID-19?
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Which Global Risks Have Worsened During the Pandemic?

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What Global Risks Have Worsened Since COVID-19

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The Briefing

  • A new report from WEF found that social cohesion and overall livelihood have worsened the most since the start of the pandemic
  • Policy measures and economic impacts from COVID-19 have exacerbated inequality, which has increased polarization and resentment among communities

The Global Risks That Have Gotten Worse Since COVID-19

Each year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) puts together its Global Risks Report, an analysis of the top risks that pose a threat to the world.

The report includes data from nearly 1,000 surveyed leaders, across various organizations and regions. In this year’s report, respondents were asked which global risks have gotten worse since the start of the pandemic.

Here’s what they said.

Social Threats

According to respondents, the erosion of social cohesion is the global risk that has intensified the most since the start of the global pandemic. The WEF defines this as the loss of social capital or social stability.

RiskCategory% of respondents
Social cohesion erosionSocietal27.8%
Livelihood crisesSocietal25.5%
Climate action failureEnvironmental25.4%
Mental health deteriorationSocietal23.0%
Extreme weatherEnvironmental22.7%
Debt crisesEconomic13.8%
Cybersecurity failuresTechnological12.4%
Infectious diseasesSocietal10.9%
Digital inequalityTechnological10.5%
Backlash against scienceSocietal9.5%
Biodiversity lossEnvironmental8.4%
Geoeconomic confrontationsGeopolitical8.2%
Human environmental damageEnvironmental7.8%
Youth disillusionmentSocietal7.1%
Interstate relations fractureGeopolitical7.0%
Prolonged stagnationEconomic6.9%
Asset bubble burstEconomic6.7%
Social security collapseSocietal6.2%
Involuntary migrationSocietal5.4%
Adverse tech advancesTechnological5.3%
Tech governance failureTechnological4.5%
Geopolitical resource contestationGeopolitical4.4%
Digital power concentrationTechnological4.3%
Public infrastructure failureSocietal4.2%
Industry collapseEconomic4.1%
Price instabilityEconomic3.3%
Commodity shocksEconomic3.0%
Interstate conflictGeopolitical2.9%
Natural resource crisesEnvironmental2.7%
State collapseGeopolitical2.6%
IT infrastructure breakdownTechnological2.4%
Multilateralism collapseGeopolitical2.2%
Illicit economic activityEconomic2.2%
Pollution harms to healthSocietal1.9%
Terrorist attacksGeopolitical1.6%
Geophysical disastersEnvironmental0.8%
Weapons of mass destructionGeopolitical0.3%

Inequality existed long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has only made things worse.

For example, employment recovery has been uneven across the United States. High-wage workers have seen employment rates bounce back fairly quickly after their Spring 2020 slump, while low-wage workers haven’t recovered at the same rate.

As of August 2021, employment rates for those making below $27K a year were still down 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Environmental Threats

In addition to societal threats, a couple environmental risks made it to the top of the list as well. Both Climate action failure and extreme weather were in the top five.

Considering how difficult it’s been for international governments to collaborate on COVID-19 relief efforts, respondents feel less than optimistic that we’ll manage to seamlessly deal with the chaos that could come from environmental risks, which are similarly complex.

Which global risk do you think has worsened the most since the start of the pandemic?

Where does this data come from?

Source: WEF Global Risks Report 2022
Details: Data in this report is from the The Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), the World Economic Forum’s source of original risks data. Survey responses were collected from 8 September to 12 October 2021. See the report for full details on methodology.

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Visualizing the Five Drivers of Forest Loss

Approximately 15 billion trees are cut down annually across the world. Here’s a look at the five major drivers of forest loss. (Sponsored)

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drivers of forest loss

The Briefing

  • On average, the world loses more than 20 million hectares of forests annually.
  • Agriculture and commodity-driven deforestation each account for approximately a quarter of annual forest loss.

Visualizing the Five Drivers of Forest Loss

The world has lost one-third of its forests since the ice age, and today, approximately 15 billion trees are cut down annually.

Forests are wellsprings of biodiversity and an essential buffer against climate change, absorbing billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year. Yet, forest loss continues to grow.

The above infographic sponsored by Carbon Streaming Corporation highlights the five primary drivers behind forest loss.

Deforestation vs. Degradation

‘Forest loss’ is a broad term that captures the impacts of both permanent deforestation and forest degradation. There is an important distinction between the two:

  • Permanent deforestation: Refers to the complete removal of trees or conversion of forests to another land use (like buildings), where forests cannot regrow.
  • Forest degradation: Refers to a reduction in the density of trees in the area without a change in land use. Forests are expected to regrow.

Forest degradation accounts for over 70% or 15 million hectares of annual forest loss. The other 30% of lost forests are permanently deforested.

Driving factorCategoryAverage annual forest loss (2001-2015, million hectares)
Commodity-driven deforestationPermanent deforestation5.7
UrbanizationPermanent deforestation0.1
Forestry productsForest degradation5.4
Shifting agricultureForest degradation5
WildfiresForest degradation4.8
TotalN/A21

Commodity-driven deforestation, which includes removal of forests for farming and mining, is the largest driver of forest loss. Agriculture alone accounts for three-fourths of all commodity-driven deforestation, where forests are often converted into land for cattle ranches and plantations.

The harvesting of forestry products like timber, paper, pulp, and rubber accounts for the largest share of forest loss from degradation. This process is often managed and planned so that forests can regrow after the harvest.

Shifting agriculture and wildfires each account for around 5 million hectares or one-fourth of annual forest loss. In both cases, forests can replenish if the land is left unused.

Urbanization—the conversion of forests into land for cities and infrastructure—is by far the smallest contributor, accounting for less than 1% of annual forest loss.

How Much Carbon Do Forests Absorb?

The world’s forests absorbed nearly twice as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as they emitted between 2001 and 2019, according to research published in Nature.

On a net basis, forests sequester 7.6 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) annually, which equates to around 15% of global CO2e emissions. As the impacts of climate change intensify, protecting forests from deforestation and degradation is increasingly critical.

Carbon Streaming Corporation accelerates climate action through carbon credit streams on REDD+ projects that protect the Earth’s forests. Click here to learn more now.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Our World in Data

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Ranked: Top 10 Foreign Policy Concerns of Americans

As the world’s superpower, the U.S. has major influence in world events. Which foreign policy concerns stand out for Americans?

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america's foreign policy

The Briefing

  • Political leanings aside, terrorism remains a top issue of concern for Americans
  • Previous top issues, such as disinformation and U.S.–China relations, now rank lower

In the United States, there is a distinct difference on top foreign policy concerns between Democrats and Republicans.

This chart uses data from Morning Consult to assess the top policy concerns of Americans.

The Top Concerns

Overall, the average American is most concerned about terrorism, immigration, and drug trafficking. Interestingly, this list corresponds with the concerns of the average Republican, though falling in a different order.

Meanwhile, Democrats are chiefly worried about climate change, another global pandemic, and terrorism.

Here’s a breakdown of the policy concerns at large and across political parties.

Overall Rank with AmericansForeign Policy ConcernShare of Voters Listing it as a Top ConcernShare of Democrats Listing it as a Top ConcernShare of Republicans Listing it as a Top Concern
#1Terrorism49%38%62%
#2Immigration43%22%67%
#3Drug trafficking43%30%59%
#4Cyberattacks39%35%40%
#5Climate change38%54%17%
#6Preventing a global economic crisis32%33%31%
#7Securing critical supply chains30%27%34%
#8Preventing another global pandemic30%38%22%
#9Russia's invasion of Ukraine27%33%21%
#10Protecting human rights globally25%31%18%
#11Preventing disinformation24%29%21%
#12U.S.-China relations24%19%31%
#13Iran nuclear deal21%19%24%
#14Upholding democracy globally15%22%8%

Notably, the concern around U.S.-China relations ranks considerably low, as does preventing disinformation. Upholding democracy worldwide ranks extremely low with Republicans.

America’s Foreign Policy

Along party lines, the results are not surprising. Democrats skew towards multilateralism and want to engage with foreign bodies and other countries to tackle global issues. Republicans are generally more concerned with what’s happening at home.

Looking at the country as a whole and its relations with other nations, however, Americans lean more towards an America-first focus. According to Morning Consult, 39% of registered voters want to decrease U.S. involvement in other countries’ affairs, whereas 20% want to increase it; 30% want to keep the status quo.

Here’s a closer look at Americans’ desire to get involved in a variety of foreign policy initiatives:

IssueIncrease EffortsDecrease EffortsNeither
Overseas Troop Deployment21%37%30%
Trade and Tariffs41%15%29%
Involvement with International Organizations35%21%32%
Resolution of Military Disputes38%16%33%
Resolution of Economic Disputes43%13%31%

As of October 2022

The U.S. Midterm Elections

With midterm elections underway, America’s foreign policy may not be the most important factor for voters. Pew Research Center found that in these congressional elections, foreign policy only ranked 12th among other key issues considered “very important” by registered voters.

The top five concerns of voters in these midterms are:

  1. The economy
  2. The future of democracy within the U.S.
  3. Education
  4. Healthcare
  5. Energy policy

Regardless, the U.S. has a massive impact in foreign affairs and the results of the country’s midterm elections will likely cause a ripple effect globally. If Republicans win the House—which is looking extremely likely—and the Senate, President Biden’s foreign policy initiatives and priorities could be drastically restricted.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Morning Consult

Data notes: This ranking is made using the share of registered U.S. voters who identified the given issue as a top 5 concern for the country. For example, only 30% of registered voters said securing critical supply chains was a top 5 concern which is why it’s #7, whereas 43% said immigration was a top concern, ranking it at #2.

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