Ranking based on preparedness to tackle environmental and economic risks

India was ranked lowest among the world’s major economies for its preparedness to tackle global environmental risks and second-lowest for economic risks, while Switzerland is on the top, a report said on Tuesday.

As per the annual Global Risks Report published by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), the biggest global risk in terms of likelihood would be ‘severe income disparity’ for the next 10 years and ‘major systemic financial failure’ will be the top-most risk before the world in terms of impact.

The report said that Switzerland is best placed among the world’s 10 major economies for adapting to or recovering from global economic and environmental risks. While India is ranked ninth in terms of its ability to tackle global economic risks and comes last at tenth position for environmental risks. Italy is ranked lowest at tenth position for economic risks.

The rankings of the 10 major economic of the world - Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, the UK and the US - are based on Global Risks Perception Survey of over 1,000 experts from across the world.

India fared relatively better at sixth position in terms of the government’s risk management effectiveness, although it ranks second-lowest in terms of its global competitiveness index score.

The survey on risk management effectiveness found that Germany, Switzerland and the UK are perceived by business leaders to have highest risk-management effectiveness, while Russia was seen as having the least effective risk management. The US and China were ranked fourth and fifth respectively, while those positioned below India on this metric included Italy, Brazil, Japan and Russia.

Surveys were conducted across a total of 139 countries.

Taking into account the scores of all the countries, India was ranked 38th in terms of its risk management effectiveness and 32nd for its resilience to global risks. Singapore was ranked on top in both these surveys.

Among the top-five global risks in terms of likelihood are: severe income disparity, chronic fiscal imbalances, rising greenhouse emissions, water supply crises and mismanagement of ageing population.

On the other hand, water supply crises would be the second-biggest global risk in terms of impact, followed by chronic fiscal imbalances, food shortage crises and diffusion of weapons of mass destruction in the top five, the WEF report said.

“As we strive to restore confidence and growth globally, leaders cannot continue with a ‘risk-off’ mindset if our collective goal remains to seize transformational opportunities that can improve the state of the world,” WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

The WEF report said that the nature of global risks is constantly changing. “Thirty years ago, chlorofluorocarbons were seen as a planetary risk, while threat from a massive cyber attack was treated by many as science fiction. In the same period, the proliferation of nuclear weapons occupied the minds of scientists and politicians, while the proliferation of orbital debris did not. We see a similar story with asbestos then and carbon nanotubes today, and the list goes on.”

Talking about the health-related risks, the report said that “greatest risk of hubris to human health comes in the form of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Many people take for granted that antibiotics will always be available when we need them, but soon this may no longer be the case. Every dose of antibiotics gives an advantage for those small numbers in a bacterial population that are resistant to the drug.”

“The more a particular antibiotic is used, the more quickly bacteria resistant to that antibiotic will be selected and increased in numbers,” it added.

For India, the report said that within four years (from 2002 to 2006) the antibiotic-resistance bacteria went from 7 drugs to 21 drugs. It further said the “pharmacy sales of strong antibiotics which should be a last line of defence increased nearly six-fold from 2005 to 2010” in India.

“Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to the question of how to prevent excess use of antibiotics without unfairly restricting access to antibiotics in cases of genuine need,” it said.

A national task force in India had recommended ending over-the-counter sales of antibiotics, but the proposal was rejected as it would deny access to antibiotics to patients in rural areas where there are no physicians to prescribe the drug, the WEF report said.

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