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Published On: Wed, Sep 2nd, 2015

Worldwide Worries: The Curious Changes in the WEF Global Risk Report

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has changed its focus this year on what we face as a planet in the upcoming decade. Here are just some of the issues we all need to watch out for, including chronic unemployment and water shortages.

Chronic Unemployment

For the first time in U.S. history, a tidal wave of people retiring will not be replaced by young people entering the workforce.

It’s also the first time in WEF’s history where economic concerns have taken a back seat to unemployment (or any other concern for that matter). A slow economy, coupled with the fact that the U.S. phenomenon of “baby boomers” are nearing retirement, will likely put incredible strains on the existing U.S. Social Security system (the national retirement system in the U.S.).

Persistent joblessness is a source of social tension. But, unemployment woes aren’t restricted to the U.S.

According to some reports, youth unemployment remains a persistent problem and, in fact, has been rising since at least 2005. Some law firms, which deal with these issues, especially when it concerns business legal advice on employment law, also see the trend – and it’s disturbing.

Especially problematic is the fact that, in the UK, this persistent unemployment in youth markets is linked to long-term downward trends in wages. On the other end of the equation are businesses, which claim that they find it challenging to hire work-ready young people.

Water Shortages Threaten Everyone

Water is the new oil, they say. Some environmental concerns focus on the estimated 4 to 5 billion people in the world who suffer from strained access to clean water. The Middle East, in particular, is most likely to be a hotspot for water struggles.

Agriculture accounts for around 70 per cent of the total water consumption in the world, which is needed to feed people. But water is also needed for other reasons. And, to feed the world’s growing population, the World Bank estimates we would need to ramp up food production by 50pc by 2030.

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Will The State Collapse?

Geopolitical conflict comes with serious risks. One of those risks is the collapse of state power. For example, in 2014, the rise of non-state actors threatened the stability of established state powers, like Syria and Iraq.

As non-state groups continue to push into new territory, they threaten stability in the world.

For example, Isis has claimed control over many territories, and attracted some 20,000 to 30,000 fighters. Their use of large-scale terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction, threaten to shake up our traditional power structures, possibly bringing them down completely.

State Conflict

The biggest threat to the world over the next 10 years is probably geopolitical tensions.

According to the WEF’s Global Risk Report, the crisis in the Ukraine, Russia’s tensions with Europe, and strained Chinese-Japanese relations elude to the fact that some of the world’s biggest powers are engaged in strategic power struggles.

Each is vying for supremacy in their own respective conflicts, but it’s the citizens that bear the brunt of these conflicts, especially if (or when) the fallout occurs.

While super-nations have had disagreements in the past, this is the first time that geopolitical threats have topped the risk index, and overtaken economic concerns.

How it all shakes out is anyone’s guess but, at this point, things aren’t looking too good for us.

Guest Author :

Rose Truman has spent many years working in the financial markets and enjoys the opportunity to share her insights with an online audience. Her thoughts can be viewed across a number of relevant websites.

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