“Unemployment, diseases top concern for business leaders:” WEF Report

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Geneva-based global NGO, unemployment and infectious diseases are the top concerns for business leaders across the globe, as economies struggle with growing job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While unemployment is the greatest concern, fears about the spread of infectious diseases have become the second-largest risk factor for executives. Infectious diseases have advanced 28 places and are now the second most recurrent risk, featuring in the top 10 in all regions except South Asia.

Fiscal crisis, which was the key concern in 2019 has been pushed to the third spot in the WEF’s Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020 report which was published recently.

Environment-related risks

Although the highest risks are primarily related to economics, environment-related risks are causing greater concern this year, with more prominent features being natural disasters (up seven places), severe weather events (up five), biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation (up eight), and climate change adaptation failure (up two). Man-made environmental disasters (down six), failure in urban planning (down seven), and terrorist attacks (down nine) are other crucial changes.

Concerns in MENA

Energy price shock and fiscal crisis are the top two concerns in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, while the spread of infectious disease took the third spot. This is followed by cyber attacks and social instability in the fourth and fifth positions.

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Saadia Zahidi

“The employment disruptions caused by the pandemic, rising automation and the transition to greener economies are fundamentally changing labor markets. As we emerge from the crisis, leaders have a remarkable opportunity to create new jobs, support living wages, and reimagine social safety nets to adequately meet the challenges in the labor markets of tomorrow.”

According to data, the pandemic has now claimed over 1 million lives and infected over 35 million. Restrictions on movement to help curb the spread of the virus have contributed to increasing unemployment worldwide as businesses are struggling to absorb the economic downturn.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is set to update its 2020 outlook for the global economy, the world faces the possibility of ‘severe economic scarring’ from job losses, bankruptcies and disruption in education.

IMF predicts a “partial and incomplete recovery” in 2021 and expects the global output to be “well below” its pre-pandemic projections. For almost all countries, it warned, this would be a setback to improving living standards.

30 threats, including terrorist attacks, severe weather occurrences and state breakdown or crisis have been evaluated by the WEF survey which included 12,000 business leaders across 127 countries.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight on organizational resilience. As firms look to the future, they are matching their risk and resilience arrangements with a threat landscape marked by significant customer and workforce behavioral shifts,” said John Doyle, president and chief executive of Marsh, a global professional services company.