Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Global threats in 2010 revealed by report

Nepalese farmers winnow rice in Pyutar village on the outskirts of Kathmandu
Underinvestment in agriculture is a global risk, says report

Underinvestment in energy and agriculture are among the biggest economic threats facing the world in 2010, according to a report.

The World Economic Forum's Global Risks study also says the implications of chronic diseases such as diabetes are at risk of being underestimated.

The study says the financial crisis has revealed a need to change thinking on global risks and how they are managed.

Levels of awareness of global crime and corruption are also very low, it says.


"The financial crisis and the ensuing recession have created a more vulnerable environment where unaddressed risks may become tomorrow's crises," said Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer at the World Economic Forum.

Underinvestment in energy infrastructure has been particularly highlighted.

"The recent drop in oil prices has been good for consumers, but has also contributed to a significant cut in much needed investment in energy infrastructure and renewable energy projects," said John Drzik, chief executive of Oliver Wyman, part of Marsh & McLennan Companies which helped to compile the report.

"The fragile global economy will make itself more susceptible to oil price-related shocks if this underinvestment continues."

Another area of concern, according to the study, is agriculture infrastructure.

"We need a vast increase in food production to feed the growing world population, and a billion people are already undernourished. Governments must work together with the private sector to make it happen," said Raj Singh, Chief Risk Officer at Swiss Re, which also helped produce the report.

Transnational crime

The study also suggests that 'creeping risks', such as the development and spread of chronic illnesses within both the developed and developing world, can be vastly underestimated.

Dealing with increased numbers of people suffering from diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases drives up health costs while reducing productivity and economic growth.

The report also says that global levels of awareness of transnational crime and corruption, and cyber-vulnerability are currently very low.

According to the report, experts claim that illicit trade accounts for 10% of global GDP.

In the health sector, counterfeited drugs represent almost 10% of the worldwide pharmaceuticals market.

The report suggests that through increasingly complex supply chains and distribution networks corporations are more exposed to problems such as counterfeiting, intellectual property infringement and corruption at all levels.

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