These are the top risks facing the world in 2020

This article is part of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

  • For the first time the Global Risks Report is dominated by the environment.
  • Geoeconomic and political pressures top short-term concerns.
  • Climate-linked issues like extreme heat and ecosystems loss highlighted.

Following a year of floods and droughts, when fires ravaged Australia and the Amazon, and teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was chosen as Time’s Person of the Year, it is perhaps little wonder that environmental issues dominate leaders’ concerns for the future.

But the latest edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report shows how loudly they are sounding the alarm. Established leaders and up-and-comers agree: climate change is the stand-out long-term risk the world faces.

The report, which identifies the top threats facing our world by likelihood and extent of impact, names failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change as the key concern for the Forum’s network of business leaders, NGOs, academics and others. The group places it as the number one risk by impact and number two by likelihood over the next 10 years.

Long-term risk outlook for multistakeholders

Perceptions of global risks over the next 10 years, according to multistakeholders. Image: World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2020

In fact, respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey, which underpins the report, rank issues related to global warming – such as extreme weather and biodiversity loss – as the top five risks in terms of likelihood over the coming decade. This is the first time one category has occupied all of the top slots since the report was launched in 2006.

Long-term risk outlook for global shapers

Perceptions of global risks over the next 10 years, according to global shapers. Image: World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey

Climate change is hitting harder and accelerating faster than many people predicted. And efforts to meet commitments to limit global warming are slipping, with countries veering off course. For the Global Shapers Community – the Forum’s younger constituents – environmental issues are even more pressing and top their list of concerns both in the short and long term.

Short term risks

Percentage of people who think a risk will increase over the next 10 years. Image: World Economic Forum Global Risks Perception Survey

Gathering economic clouds

Growing downward pressure on the global economy, driven by fragile macroeconomic structures and financial inequality, is deemed the biggest short-term threat by the ‘multi-stakeholders’ questioned.

And the risk of stagnation is exacerbated as leaders increasingly follow nationalist policies. Over three-quarters of respondents think this darkening economic outlook and domestic political polarization are set to become more likely in the short term.

Trade tensions and geopolitical turbulence are also adding to the economic uncertainty – in particular the potential fallout from the United States and China’s trade stand-off. The two countries account for more than 40% of global GDP. They are also the world’s top two emitters of greenhouse gases. So the world’s economic performance and ability to address climate change is inextricably linked with theirs.

Risks in a digital world

Geopolitical and economic uncertainties are also driving concerns about digital technology: unequal access, a lack of governance, and more frequent and more damaging cyberattacks.

We live in uncertain times

The report highlights how long-mounting interconnected risks are starting to be felt. The synchronized slowdown of the global economy, the warmest temperatures on record and an increasingly unstable geopolitical environment are creating significant challenges.

“It is sobering that in the face of this development, when the challenges before us demand immediate collective action, fractures within the global community appear to only be widening,” the report says.

Waiting for the fog of geopolitical and geoeconomic uncertainty to lift before taking action is not a viable option, and would mean missing crucial windows to address pressing issues, it continues.

The good news is that, despite global divisions, some businesses are committed to looking beyond their balance sheets towards tackling the urgent issues that are looming.

What’s the methodology?

The annual Global Risks Perception Survey asks the Forum’s network of business, government, civil society and thought leaders to gauge the risks facing our world.

The survey has four parts:

1. The World in 2020. Respondents were asked whether the risks associated with 40 issues would increase or decrease this year relative to last year.

2. Assessment of Global Risks. For 30 global risks, respondents were asked about their likelihood in the next 10 years and potential impact.

3. Global Risk Interconnections. Respondents were asked to select three to six of the most strongly interconnected global risks.

A total of 1,047 responses to the survey were received.

The Global Risks Report 2020 is released ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. The report urges governments and organizations to address the impact of specific threats and make preparations to contain potential fallout should they occur.

City Climate Challenge 303030: The change of climate era in Brussels begins on 16 October 2019

For the first time, the companies of the Brussels-Capital Region have undertaken to share their resources, expertise, advice and innovation to launch a dynamic process aimed at reducing CO2 emissions in the region by 30% in 10 years. This project will be officially launched at the Brussels Meets Brussels event on October 16th. 

30 collaborative projects to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030: The 303030 movement is an unprecedented open cooperation initiative to reduce emissions substantially, accelerate the societal and political transition, reduce costs and increase the impact of the actions.

Convinced that the urgency requires being carbon neutral by 2050, the partner companies of the City Climate Challenge 303030 undertake to work collectively to learn from each other and to facilitate emission reductions by sharing their expertise, as explained in their Charter 2030. This process should make it possible to develop concrete CO2 emission reduction projects, but also to invite other stakeholders in the region to join the movement and to work alongside the regional authorities to get the regulatory framework to facilitate energy transition initiatives.

The roadmap for 2019 has been drawn up. Eight collective work meetings are scheduled to identify all the CO2 emission reduction projects capable of contributing to achieving the common objective of 30%. The approach is intended to be inclusive, comprising all stakeholders concerned, and is geared to create a multiplier effect in the Region thanks to its innovative and collaborative character.

Beci and the partners alike want this project to have a real, concrete, measurable and objectively ascertainable impact. That is why CO2logic, which is recognized for its support of CO2 emission reduction projects has accepted to be a partner of the project and to guarantee the reliability thereof.

Antoine Geerinckx of CO2logic, where the watchword is “credible climate action”, underscores the scope of the initiative: “Our mission is to make sure that 303030 is a solid undertaking by measuring annually the concrete emissions authorized by the movement for 2019, compared with already undertaken and supplementary actions.”

Olivier Willocx, CEO of Beci, has this to say about the initiative: “We should all roll up our sleeves to respond to the climate emergency. Cooperation is the solution for transforming practices and accelerating the political movement. The private sector is taking the initiative here, but it is above all a matter of launching a movement that mobilizes all Brussels stakeholders in partnership with the political world, which has to adapt the legal framework to make the transition possible. The 303030 project is a strong, proactive approach with a Charter and verification capabilities. You can require us to report to you every year, as of the launch on 16 October 2019.”

Cécile Huylebroeck, leader of the 303030 project, adds: “The climate challenge requires the 303030 partners to work together beyond any competition rationale. A target of a 30% reduction of emissions in 10 years is highly significant and proactive.”

Our leading partners for the time being are: AG Real Estate, la Confédération Construction de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, Edenred, EngieEuropcar Mobility Group, Febiac, INGInterparkingJeasyLeasePlanMicropolePasha-ParkingSibelgaSNCB/NMBS, Sodexo, SolvayTotalTractebelVeolia and Vinci Facilities.

The project is being carried out with the cooperation of CO2logicDreamocracyHack BelgiumSpacious agency & Whyte Corporate Affairs.


CMB is pleased to announce its long-term CO2 reduction strategy:
1. All carbon emissions from CMB operations will be completely offset as from 2020
2. CMB will invest in new technologies to operate a zero carbon fleet by 2050

Net zero as from 2020 …
CMB has offset all its CO2 emissions in order to have net zero CO2 emissions as from 2020. CMB has done this by supporting certified climate projects in developing countries and acquiring high quality Voluntary Carbon Units (VCU’s) in Zambia (agro-forestry, SALM, REDD+), Guatemala (REDD+) and India (wind and solar parks).

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) COMACO Landscape Management Project in Eastern Province, Zambia – Picture taken on a CMB field trip 7th of January 2020

… zero in 2050 !
Furthermore, CMB is of the opinion that it can achieve zero carbon emissions from its shipping operations in 2050. Even though many low and zero carbon technologies are still in the early stages of their development – and today there are unfortunately no economically viable alternatives to diesel – CMB is convinced that the shipping industry will find solutions to provide zero carbon shipping by 2050.

CMB’s CO2 strategy
As long as CMB’s fleet is not powered by 100 % zero-carbon fuels, CMB will offset its remaining CO2 emissions.

Zero carbon ships and engines
CMB is already investing heavily in the development of low and zero carbon ships and engines, and fully supports the many different industry initiatives that want to join forces to develop the technologies needed to reduce shipping’s carbon footprint.

The HydroTug, the world’s first hydrogen-powered tugboat, is developed by
CMB.TECH and will be delivered in 2021 to the Port of Antwerp

As we will bring concrete zero-carbon projects to life in the coming months and years, we will continue to actively engage and cooperate with other shipping companies, our customers, our suppliers, our banks and national and international politicians to achieve zero carbon shipping.

125 years
This announcement marks the start of CMB’s 125th anniversary year and is a testimony to our long-lasting and continued belief in the power of global trade and human creativity. Sustainable shipping brings peace and prosperity to all corners of the world.