Severe income disparity is regarded as the most likely risk in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 report.
The report, which is based on a global survey of 1,000 experts, also found that water supply crises, chronic fiscal imbalances, rising religious fanaticism and volatile energy and agriculture prices were the other risks that the MENA region could face.
Overall, the report found that the “world was seen as more at risk” because of the lingering effects of the financial crisis and deteriorating attention to climate change.
Severe income disparity and chronic fiscal imbalances were identified as the top two most prevalent global risks.
“This reflects on-going concerns about government debt as well as a slightly more pessimistic outlook overall for the coming 10 years,” said the report.
The survey’s respondents rated rising greenhouse gas emissions as the third most likely global risk, while the failure of climate change adaptation is seen as the environmental risk with the most knock-on effects for the next decade.
“These global risks are essentially a health warning regarding our most critical systems,” said Lee Howell, the editor of the report and managing director at the World Economic Forum.
“National resilience to global risks needs to be a priority so that critical systems continue to function despite a major disturbance”, he added.
Axel P. Lehmann, chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, said: “With the growing cost of events like Superstorm Sandy, huge threats to island nations and coastal communities, and no resolution to greenhouse gas emissions, the writing is on the wall. It is time to act.”