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Rising inequality behind Brexit and Donald Trump victory is top global threat for the next decade, says WEF

Ahead of its annual meeting summit in Davos, the WEF said the gap between rich and poor needed to be tackled urgently

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The Independent Online
A man walks past a Porsche in Aberdare, 2016. West Wales and the Valleys has been identified as the poorest region in the whole of north Western Europe Getty

A rise in global income inequality that helped spur the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election victory is expected to shape world developments over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

For a report published ahead of its annual summit in Davos next week, the WEF surveyed 750 risk experts and found that rising income and wealth disparity were cited as the most important trends in determining global developments over the next 10 years.

“This points to the need for reviving economic growth,” the report states. “But the growing mood of anti-establishment populism suggests we may have passed the stage where this alone would remedy fractures in society.”

Social polarisation and climate change were cited as second and third most important threats by respondents in the report.

“This year, environmental concerns are more prominent than ever,” the WEF says. 

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The WEF said that all of these trends, which already triggered political change in 2016, could exacerbate global risks this year. It urged world leaders to work together to avert further hardship and volatility in the coming decade. 

Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, head of global competitiveness and risks at WEF, said: “Urgent action is needed among leaders to identify ways to overcome political or ideological differences and work together to solve critical challenges.

“The momentum of 2016 towards addressing climate change shows this is possible and offers hope that collective action at the international level aimed at resetting other risks could also be achieved.”

The WEF says that the unexpected triumphs in 2016 for the Leave campaign in the UK and Mr Trump’s victory in the race for the White House are the most high profile indicators of disruption and a febrile political environment.

The report also warns that society is not keeping pace with technological change. It found that of the 12 emerging technologies examined in the report, artificial intelligence and robotics had the greatest potential benefits, but also the greatest negative effects and need for better governance.

Cecilia Reyes, chief risk officer of Zurich Insurance Group, said: “We live in disruptive times where technological progress also creates challenges. Without proper governance and re-skilling of workers, technology will eliminate jobs faster than it creates them.

“Governments can no longer provide historical levels of social protection and an anti-establishment narrative has gained traction, with new political leaders blaming globalisation for society’s challenges, creating a vicious cycle in which lower economic growth will only amplify inequality. Cooperation is essential to avoid the further deterioration of government finances and the exacerbation of social unrest.”

Brexit Concerns

Brexit Concerns

  • 1/26 Brexit will put British patients at 'back of the queue' for new drugs

    Brexit will put British patients at the “back of the queue” for vital new drugs, the Government has been warned – forcing them to wait up to two years longer A medicines regulator has raised the alarm over a likely decision to pull out of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as well as the EU itself. ealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt dropped the bombshell , when he said he expected the UK would quit the EMA – because it is subject to rulings by the European Court of Justice.

    Getty Images

  • 2/26 London to lose status as 'gateway to Europe' for banks

    One of Germany’s top banking regulators has warned that London could lose its status as “gateway to Europe” for the banking sector after Britain quits the European trading bloc. Andreas Dombret, who is an executive board member for the Bundesbank—Germany’s central bank—told a private meeting of German businesses and banks earlier this week in Frankfurt that even if banking rules were “equivalent” between the UK and the rest of the EU, that was still “miles away from [Britain having] access to the single market”, the BBC reports.

    Jason Hawkes

  • 3/26 Exodus

    The number of financial sector professionals in Britain and continental Europe looking for jobs in Ireland rocketed in the months after the UK voted to leave the European Union

    Shutterstock

  • 4/26 Brexit is making FTSE 100 executives richer

    Pay packages of many FTSE 100 chief executive officers are partly tied to how well share prices are doing rather than the CEO’s performance -- and some stocks are soaring. ritish equities got a boost since the June vote because the likes of Rio Tinto, Smiths Group and WPP generate most sales abroad and earn a fortune when they convert these revenues back into the weakened pound. Sterling’s fall also made UK stocks more affordable for overseas investors.

    Rex

  • 5/26 Theresa May: UK to leave single market

    Theresa May has said the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean "not leaving the EU at all".

    Getty

  • 6/26

    Lead campaigner Gina Miller and her team outside the High Court

    Getty

  • 7/26

    Raymond McCord holds up his newly issued Irish passport alongside his British passport outside the High Court in Belfast following a judges dismissal of the UK's first legal challenges to Brexit

    PA wire

  • 8/26

    SDLP leader Colum Eastwood leaving the High Court in Belfast following a judges dismissal of the UK's first legal challenges to Brexit

    PA wire

  • 9/26

    Migrants with luggage walk past a graffiti on a wall as they leave the 'Jungle' migrant camp, as part of a major three-day operation planned to clear the camp in Calais

    Getty

  • 10/26

    Migrants leave messages on their tents in the Jungle migrant camp

    Getty

  • 11/26

    The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (Adra) which distributes approximately 700 meals daily in the northern Paris camp states that it is noticing a spike in new migrant arrivals this week, potentially linked the the Calais 'jungle' camp closure - with around 1000 meals distributed today

    EPA

  • 12/26

    Migrant workers pick apples at Stocks Farm in Suckley, Britain

    Reuters

  • 13/26

    Many farmers across the country are voicing concerns that Brexit could be a dangerous step into the unknown for the farming industry

    Getty

  • 14/26

    Bank of England governor Mark Carney who said the long-term outlook for the UK economy is positive, but growth was slowing in the wake of the Brexit vote

    PA

  • 15/26

    The Dow Jones industrial average closed down over 600 points on the news with markets around the globe pluninging

    Getty

  • 16/26

    Immigration officers deal with each member of the public seeking entry into the United Kingdom but on average, 10 a day are refused entry at this London airport and between 2008 and 2009, 33,100 people were detained at the airport for mainly passport irregularities

    Getty

  • 17/26

    A number of global investment giants have threatened to move their European operations out of London if Brexit proves to have a negative impact on their businesses

    Getty

  • 18/26

    Following the possibility of a Brexit the UK would be released from its renewable energy targets under the EU Renewable Energy Directive and from EU state aid restrictions, potentially giving the government more freedom both in the design and phasing out of renewable energy support regimes

    Getty

  • 19/26

    A woman looking at a chart showing the drop in the pound (Sterling) against the US Dollar in London after Britain voted to leave the EU

    Getty

  • 20/26

    Young protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, to protest against the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU following the referendum

    Getty

  • 21/26

    Applications from Northern Ireland citizens for Irish Passports has soared to a record high after the UK Voted in favour of Leaving the EU

    Getty

  • 22/26

    NFU Vice President Minette Batters with Secretary of State, Andrea Leadsome at the National Farmers Union (NFU) took machinery, produce, farmers and staff to Westminster to encourage Members of Parliament to back British farming, post Brexit

    Getty

  • 23/26

    The latest reports released by the UK Cabinet Office warn that expats would lose a range of specific rights to live, to work and to access pensions, healthcare and public services. The same reports added that UK citizens abroad would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed in the future

    Getty

  • 24/26

    A British resident living in Spain asks questions during an informative Brexit talk by the "Brexpats in Spain" group, about Spanish legal issues to become Spanish citizens, at the town hall in Benalmadena, Spain

    Reuters

  • 25/26

    The collapse of Great Britain appears to have been greatly exaggerated given the late summer crowds visiting city museums, hotels, and other important tourist attractions

    Getty

  • 26/26

    The U.K. should maintain European Union regulations covering everything from working hours to chemicals until after the government sets out its plans for Brexit, said British manufacturers anxious to avoid a policy vacuum and safeguard access to their biggest export market

    Getty

The top five trends that will determine the future of the global economy over the next decade

1.    Rising Income and wealth disparity 

2.    Changing climate 

3.    Increasing polarization of societies 

4.    Rising cyber dependency

5.    Ageing population

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Summary | 7 Annotations
WEF surveyed 750 risk experts and found that rising income and wealth disparity were cited as the most important trends in determining global developments
2017/01/11 14:38
Social polarisation and climate change were cited as second and third most
2017/01/11 14:38
It found that of the 12 emerging technologies examined in the report, artificial intelligence and robotics had the greatest potential benefits
2017/01/11 14:39
We live in disruptive times where technological progress also creates challenges.
2017/01/11 14:39
Without proper governance and re-skilling of workers, technology will eliminate jobs faster than it creates them. “
2017/01/11 14:39
The top 5 trends that will determine the future of the global economy
2017/01/11 14:40
1.    Rising Income and wealth disparity  2.    Changing climate  3.    Increasing polarization of societies  4.    Rising cyber dependency 5.    Ageing population
2017/01/11 14:40