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How Davos Players Can Start Tackling Major Environmental Risks

  • Posted by Peter Glatzer on January 28, 2016 in Conservation
  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) published its annual Global Risks Report in the run up to its annual meeting in Davos. Food and water crises, energy price shocks, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, it said, are the biggest threats facing society.
    Three of the top five global risks in terms of likelihood and three of the top five global risks in terms of impact have links to the environment. Of even greater concern, however, are the linkages between these systems, and the trade-offs associated with decisions in one area affecting another.

    This growing recognition of for business, and their interconnections, reflects what is emerging as "nexus" thinking in the natural and social sciences.

    Those with long memories will recall that these issues have been high on the Davos agenda for much of the past decade and, therefore, discussed by the great and the good of corporate and political life. So why has significant business action not necessarily followed?

    Making connections

    Five years ago the WEF launched a report on the "Water-Energy-Food-Climate Change nexus". It was a recognition that water concerns were closely linked to issues such as inequality, terrorism, famine, poverty and disease. This set the stage for business to consider a rounded approach to addressing the intimately interwoven threats from water scarcity, energy and food security and . While there has been some progress, however, there is little evidence of a step change in attitudes and practices commensurate with the scale of the challenges.

    One reason for this inaction is what the Bank of England's governor, Mark Carney, called the "tragedy of the horizon" in his speech to the insurance industry in September 2015.

    The impacts of many of these interconnected environmental risks fall outside the traditional decision-making horizons of most of those involved. Current decision makers have little incentive to fix the problem, even if they acknowledge and understand the risks. MORE


    Photo courtesey of: EPA/Barbara Walton     





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