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What is Davos Saying About Environmental Risks? - Gülce Özdilekcan

Looking at the world's current situation, we all have predictions about what is going to happen in the next period as well. Risk itself has many definitions; however, we see them beforehand and are prepared for them. World Economic Forum was established in 1971, and it is known for its summit, Davos. It is held in Switzerland and Davos, and in my opinion, it is one of the unique kinds of the summit for them. They define their uniqueness by “bringing together the world's foremost CEOs, heads of state, ministers and policy-makers, experts and academics, international organizations, youth, technology innovators and representatives of civil society in an impartial space to drive positive change.” It is an environment with all kinds of points of view, and they have one idea in common: the benefit of the world. In their Global Risk Report, which is published every year, they aim to address five main topics, which are economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological.

Many things have changed from 2020 to 2022. Still, some hot topics have remained the same. Therefore, it is rightful to say that the definition of risk through these two years has changed. I wanted to observe the environmental risks mentioned in the report especially. Some of the environmental topics we see are often mentioned, like global warming. However new environmental crisis has arisen. Therefore new risks have been interpreted. These reports are usually published in January. This means that the report published in 2020 doesn't involve the period of COVID19 since it became a hot topic in mid-February and March. According to the WEF, the hot topic of the environment is not affected by pandemics. However, still, it is open to discussions if COVID19 has affected the environment thoroughly or not.

A Decade Left: Confronting Runaway Climate Threat (2020)

On January 15, 2020, that year's Global Risk Report was published with two topics on environment and climate change. Other than the climate threat, there is a part called "Save the Axolotl," which is about biodiversity loss. According to a survey done by WEF, “failure of climate-change mitigation and adaption is this year’s number one long-term risk by impact and number two by likelihood."

The studies show that the last five years have been the warmest in many years. Once a week, a climate change-related natural disaster happens. Not only have we faced losing biodiversity, but the lives of human beings are also in danger. It also yields in a food and water crisis. Agriculture becomes affected by climate change, which also leads to healthcare problems. Environment-related markets lose their value, and these investments become less profitable. This type of value loss strains central banks and forces them to act according to the changes.

Disorderly Climate Transition (2022)

It is not a surprise that we are still talking about the same issues in the year 2022 as well. There is a striking chart about the temperature increase and the expectation of an increase this year in the report. With the striking advancements with the COVID19, there were slight changes in risk expectations, but the ones about carbon emissions have decreased. In 2021 and 2022, we have observed goals of zero carbon emissions. During the lockdown period, it is not hard to say that carbon emissions have decreased used to less transportation usage and decreased production levels in the period. I can vividly remember the dolphins in the Bosporus, which seemed too good to be true, to be honest. However, behind the scenes, there was a more upsetting fact. Global Risk Report 2022 claims that the COVID19 has become the priority of the states for so long that they forgot about holding their promises regarding CO2 emission.

From the Global Risk Reports and the view of WEF, it is true to say that environmental issues have long-term risks and effects. Therefore, the topics discussed in the reports are nonetheless the same. However, 2020 was a different year than the others, as we all know. We weren't aware of the full effects and risks of the pandemics; however, it is surprising how this whole situation has even differentiated our actions and expectations against the environment.


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