The report also warns that food security will become an increasingly complex political and economic problem over the next few years, with issues of equity and trade offs between security and other issues making the design of global policy both difficult and necessary. Greater co-operation on managing vulnerabilities associated with cross-border supply chains and concentrations of production may also be needed. Finally, with the dollar price of oil at record highs, the report recommends an improved approach to securing viable energy supplies in the years ahead.
The report is based on input from a network of more than 100 top business leaders, decision-makers, scientists and other leading academics convened throughout 2007 as part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Network. The topics identified in the report will be at the core of the agenda for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum taking place later this month in
Global Risks 2008 focuses on four emerging issues which will impact the world economy and society in the decade ahead. While many of the risks cannot be avoided, they can be better understood, managed and mitigated.
* Systemic financial risk…
* Food security: In 2007, prices for many staple foods reached record highs and global food reserves are at a 25-year low, making world food supply vulnerable to an international crisis or natural disaster – in some cases giving rise to political instability with “food riots” observed in 2007. Looking ahead, Global Risks 2008 suggests that the drivers of global food insecurity – population growth, lifestyle changes, use of crops to manufacture bio-fuels, climate change – are likely to sharpen over the coming decade, setting the world for a potential long-term trend reversal in food prices and leading to a set of complex challenges to global equity.
* Supply chain vulnerability…
* Energy: The availability of energy resources is key to the global economy, but guaranteeing a safe, secure and sustainable supply – and doing so in line with global commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – is increasingly problematic. With predictions of a 37% increase in oil demand over current levels by 2030, the report sees limited scope for a fall in energy prices over the next decade. This may be good news for oil and gas producers but it creates an inherent mismatch between those who bear risk and reward, which should be addressed through better dialogue at all levels.