World Economic Forum warns that a digital shift propelled by the pandemic and a space race facilitated by falling costs for launch technology bring fresh challenges for the global economy.

According to Global Risks Report, cyberattacks are becoming more aggressive and widespread, as criminals use tougher tactics.
According to Global Risks Report, cyberattacks are becoming more aggressive and widespread, as criminals use tougher tactics. (AFP)

Cybersecurity and space have been identified as new emerging risks to the global economy, adding to existing challenges posed by climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.

A World Economic Forum (WEF) report released on Tuesday said that most experts believe "a global economic recovery will be volatile and uneven over the next three years." 

Here's a rundown of WEF's Global Risks Report, which is based on a survey of about 1,000 experts and leaders:

World outlook

As 2022 begins, the pandemic and its economic and societal impact still pose a “critical threat”, the report said.

Big differences between rich and poor nations’ access to vaccines mean their economies are recovering at uneven rates, which could widen social divisions and heighten geopolitical tensions.

By 2024, the global economy is forecast to be 2.3 percent smaller than it would have been without the pandemic. 

But that masks the different rates of growth between developing nations, whose economies are forecast to be 5.5 percent smaller than before the pandemic, and rich countries, which are expected to expand 0.9 percent.

READ MORE: Billionaires' wealth soared during pandemic as millions fell into poverty

Digital shift

The pandemic forced many people to work or attend class from home and gave rise to online platforms and devices in a transformation that has dramatically increased security risks, the report said.

“We're at the point now where cyberthreats are growing faster than our ability to effectively prevent and manage them," said Carolina Klint, a risk management leader at Marsh, whose parent company Marsh McLennan co-authored the report with Zurich Insurance Group and SK Group.

Malware and ransomware attacks have boomed, while cryptocurrencies make it easy for online criminals to hide payments they have collected.

READ MORE: Cyberattack hits businesses and governments

Final frontier

Falling costs for launch technology has led to a new space race between companies and governments. 

A host of countries are beefing up their space programmes as they chase geopolitical and military power or scientific and commercial gains, the report said. 

But all these programmes raise the risk of frictions in orbit. 

“Increased exploitation of these orbits carries the risk of congestion, an increase in debris and the possibility of collisions in a realm with few governance structures to mitigate new threats," the report said.

Climate threat

The planet's health over the next decade is the dominant concern, according to survey respondents, who cited failure to act on climate change, extreme weather, and loss of biodiversity as the top three risks.

The report noted that different countries are taking different approaches, with some moving faster to adopt a zero-carbon model than others. Both approaches come with downsides.

While moving slowly could radicalise more people who think the government isn't acting urgently, a faster shift away from carbon-intense industries could spark economic turmoil and throw millions out of work.

READ MORE: Greenhouse gases 'hit record highs' in 2021

Source: TRTWorld and agencies