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Disinformation, extreme weather conditions, and societal polarisation are globally the 3 risks with the greatest negative impact on human development in the next 2 years, according to the Global Risk Report 2024 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Surveyed in September 2023, the majority of experts (54%) expect some instability and moderate risk of global catastrophes, while 30% anticipate even more turbulent conditions. According to Professor Volberda, the outlook is significantly more negative over the 10-year period, with almost two-thirds of respondents expecting a turbulent or unstable outlook.

AI-generated misinformation is the biggest risk

According to experts, AI-generated misinformation is the biggest global short-term risk for the next 2 years. Experts believe that both foreign and domestic actors will use misinformation to further widen societal and political divides. With nearly 3 billion people in major economies such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and the United States heading to the polls in the next 2 years, the widespread use of false information could undermine the credibility of newly elected governments, leading to unrest ranging from violent protests and hate crimes to civil confrontations and terrorism.

Polarisation and changing world order

A growing gap on the world stage between different power blocs and between the Global North and South threatens to disrupt international cooperation. Volberda: 'The consequences of climate change, pandemic-related crises, and economic tensions between major powers are likely to influence the dynamics of international cooperation and security. This could lead to a paralysis of global decision-making mechanisms and decreasing attention for urgent global issues.'

Extreme weather conditions

Two-thirds of global experts are concerned about extreme weather conditions in 2024. However, there is disagreement among experts about the urgency of certain environmental risks, such as biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse. As Volberda notes, 'Businesses emphasise these risks as major long-term concerns, unlike respondents from civil society or government, who prioritise these risks in the short term.'

Risks faced by the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the significant shortage of labor is seen as the biggest risk. According to Volberda, the Netherlands is in a very unique position, being the country with the largest labor shortage and the lowest global unemployment. Volberda states, 'Most economies face a shortage of qualified labor but at the same time experience higher unemployment.' Economic downturn, energy shortages, lack of social cohesion, and cybercrime round out the top 5 risks.