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WWF statement on WEF’s Global Risk Report 2020

Environmental risks are biggest facing world; time running out to take action.

Firefighters battle a bushfire at Colo Heights, New South Wales.
© WWF-Australia / Rohan Kelly / Newspix
Firefighters battle a bushfire at Colo Heights, New South Wales. © WWF-Australia / Rohan Kelly / Newspix

The top five most pressing challenges facing the world over the next decade are, for the first time, all related to the environment, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2020, released today.

The report, based on a survey of more than 750 decision-makers from across business, governments and civil society, found that of all the risks facing the world this year, climate change policy failures, biodiversity loss, extreme weather, natural disasters and human-made environmental disasters are seen as the most likely to happen.

Climate change policy failures, biodiversity loss, extreme weather and water crises were also seen as among the top five risks by severity of impact.

The report warns that time will run out for leaders to address threats like the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis unless they pay urgent attention to repairing societal divisions and driving sustainable economic growth.

WWF welcomes the report’s findings, which clearly indicate that the emergency facing our environment is rightly at the forefront of the minds of many of the world’s most influential people, and that urgent change is needed to protect our planet.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said:

“We hope this report serves as a wake-up call for leaders to address the catastrophic threats facing the planet and our future.

“Unless mitigated, risks related to climate change and loss of nature have the potential to harm millions of people, destabilize the global economy which relies on nature for services worth USD$125 trillion every year, and leave businesses - and the communities and economies that depend on them - vulnerable to collapse. We ignore these risks at our peril.

“2020 is the year we all need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we are doing to stop the destruction of our own home, and what can we do to restore the world around us?

“Business has a pivotal role to play. This year, when governments are expected to take a series of key decisions relating to nature loss and climate change, businesses have a unique opportunity to push governments to stop continually hitting the snooze button in the face of the planet’s loudest alarm yet. Forward-thinking companies can also take action from the inside, like the hundreds of firms that have already committed to science-based emissions reductions targets and 100 per cent renewable energy.

“The world is finally paying attention to the signals the Earth has been sending. Now is the time to act.”

In 2020, governments are expected to step up their commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate, renew their commitments to the environment under the Sustainable Development Goals, agree a new global biodiversity framework and negotiate the world’s first ever treaty to protect ocean life on the high seas. To avoid environmental and human catastrophe, WWF and partners are calling for a New Deal for Nature and People to be secured this year which will halt nature loss and set nature on the path to recovery by 2030.

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