For 17 years now, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report has warned of highly interconnected global risks. Global Risks Report 2023 revealed that conflict and geoeconomic tensions have generated a range of closely linked global risks. The 2023 Global Risk Report identified the following top ten risks posing the greatest threat to Pakistan over the next two years.
WEF Global Risks Report 2023: Pakistan needs to improve cybersecurity measures and digital inequality
These threats are
- Digital power concentration and monopolies
- Failure of cybersecurity measures (including loss of privacy, data fraud or theft, and cyber espionage)
- Rapid and/or sustained inflation
- Debt crises
- Collapse of the state
- Lack of widespread digital services and digital inequality
- Interstate conflict
- Loss of terrestrial biodiversity and collapse of ecosystems
- Terrorist attacks
- Employment and livelihood crisis.
The report highlights that the biggest risk facing the country is digital power concentration and monopolies. Moreover, the country also failed to supplement cybersecurity measures. The report further revealed that the people of the country faced a lack of privacy and digital fraud. In addition, there is a lack of widespread digital services and digital inequality in Pakistan.
The report finds that the cost-of-living crisis is the biggest short-term risk, while the failure of climate mitigation and adaptation is the biggest long-term concern. The report further revealed that more than 800,000 hectares of farmland have been wiped out by floods in Pakistan in 2022.
This has resulted in significant increases in commodity prices in a country already struggling with record inflation of 27%. Water stress is also widespread in Pakistan, particularly affecting women and girls responsible for water harvesting, affecting health and education.
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In the face of expanding humanitarian crises and state instability, water infrastructure could continue to be used as both a weapon and a target, mirroring past water conflicts and terrorism in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The report also examined how current and future risks can interact to form a “polycrisis” – a cluster of related global risks with increasing effects and unpredictable consequences. The report examined “Resource Rivalry”, a potential cluster of interrelated environmental, geopolitical and socioeconomic risks related to the supply of and demand for natural resources, including food, water and energy.