Biodiversity drops down WEF risk list

Ranked only 18th in the short term

Biodiversity has fallen out of the World Economic Forum’s top 10 most pressing risks list for the next two years, as campaigners warn of a “lack of urgency” about biodiversity decline and ecosystem collapse.

Biodiversity loss is starting to receive attention on a global scale, however financial think tank Planet Tracker’s latest report has criticised a lack of urgency.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2023 Global Risks Report revealed six of the world’s top 10 risks are related to the environment. 

But while biodiversity decline and ecosystem collapse were placed fourth over the previous 10 years, they were only ranked 18th in the short term.

The omission of biodiversity loss from this short-term list implies a lack of understanding of the interdependence of climate and nature, Planet Tracker said in its report Biocrastination.

Biodiversity loss dangers

COP15 in Montreal underscored the urgency of biodiversity loss. 

One of the best-known measures of how species are collapsing can be found in the Living Planet Reports. The latest 2022 report demonstrated an average decline of 69% in the global Living Planet Index.

This is based on almost 32,000 populations of more than 5,200 species between 1970 and 2018. Other well-known indicators show a similar picture, Planet Tracker pointed out.

A number of the short-term risks identified in the WEF’s Global Risks Report include climate change threats such as a failure to mitigate climate change (ranked fourth) and a failure of climate change adaptation (ranked seventh).  

John Willis, director of research at Planet Tracker, said: “The problem with defining biodiversity loss as a distant risk is that action will not be taken to address the serious and significant short-term threats. 

“Waiting another 10 years for further confirmation of these negative trends is not acceptable.”

He added the WEF data indicated there is a perceived low level of risk preparedness for biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse – with only around 10% viewing risk management as either highly effective or effective – and only around 5% of respondents believing business carries the governance responsibility for this crisis. 

Willis said: “Investors and lenders across the world should demand a rethink from the executives of corporates and put an end to ‘biocrastination’.”