The survey of almost 1,000 experts from government, business, academia and non-governmental organisations showed 93 per cent expect a worsening of political or economic confrontations between major powers this year, including 40 per cent who believe those risks have increased significantly. Some 80 percent saw an increased chance of war.
Overall, 59 per cent of the respondents pointed to increased level of risks this year, the WEF said while hoping that a positive economic outlook would give leaders the opportunity to tackle systemic fragility affecting societies, economies, global relations and the environment.
At the same time, companies' cyber exposure is growing. "As they invest in things like artificial intelligence, they are widening their attack surface".
The section of the risk report dealing with cybersecurity is interesting in that it spotlights the destruction and chaos caused by freelance hackers and cybercriminals, with several references to the WannaCry ransomware attack, which has actually been attributed to the North Korean government by the United States. Although it improves management of se risks, companies and governments have to increase investment to improve protection, "he says". According to the European Aviation Safety Agency, cited in the report, aviation systems are attacked around 1,000 times a month, on average. Extreme weather events and climate change are raising the risks of natural disasters.
However, the biggest risks in South Asia overall would be in areas like employment, governance and infrastructure, as per the survey that would be discussed in detail next week at Geneva-based WEF's annual summit, to be attended by 70 heads of states/governments including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.
Recovery is underway in all major economies, leading to a sharp improvement in sentiment, says the report. "Trump is an example of this, but far from the only one".
The report pointed to Trump's decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and the TPP trade agreement and his threat to pull out of a deal between Western powers and Iran created to curb its nuclear programme.
Borge Brende, the President of the WEF, said: "The world is faced with some real systemic changes".
"Currently, invoking this reasoning, the administration is seeking to reduce the trade deficit by renegotiating USA trade agreements and adopting more protectionist US policies".
Out of 30 risks, extreme weather was singled out as the single most prominent threat facing the world in terms of likelihood.
Extreme weather and natural disasters have been ranked as the greatest threats to the planet in a new report, by the World Economic Forum. It was followed by natural disasters, cyberattacks, data fraud or theft, and failure of climate change mitigation and adaption. The WEF reiterated that rising income inequality is one of the most important underlying trends determining global events.
The theme of this year's Davos conference is to examine the causes of and solutions for political, economic and social fractures in society.
That slogan might clash with some of the realities of the $50,000-a-head event, which takes place in a sealed-off Alpine retreat guarded by thousands of soldiers and police.
The report was released ahead of the WEF foundation's meeting in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, where more than 2,000 political leaders, economists and celebrity entertainers will gather next week for four days of speeches and panel discussion.
The World Economic Forum has released Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) on most pressing risks that the world is facing, including persistent inequality and unfairness, domestic and worldwide political tensions, environmental dangers and cyber vulnerabilities. That said, even he struck a pessimistic tone.
"There is now a high probability in any decade that we could have a catastrophic simultaneous failure of the USA and China's maize production, which together account for more than 60% of global supply", she said.