Large-scale involuntary migration is the biggest risk facing the globe in 2016, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
This is followed by extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation adaptation, interstate conflict and major natural catastrophes to make up the WEF’s top five global risks in terms of likelihood.
In a report the WEF said environmental and economic factors as well as conflict were driving migration and in 2014 59.5m people were “forcibly displaced” around the world, compared to 40m at the time of Second World War.
“Global refugee flows have reached a level that is unprecedented in recent history,” said the report.
The WEF said people stayed in host countries for longer – from an average of nine years in the 1980s to 20 years by the mid 2000s – while more than 80% of conflicts lasted for more than a decade.
The report said there was a “lack of effective integration policies in most countries”, which could lead to the formation of ghettos “vulnerable to disenchantment and even radicalisation”.
“In Europe, the rapid inflow of migrants in 2015 challenged local financial and absorption capacities and exacerbated the trend towards polarisation of societies and the political spectrum, which in turn undermined the efficiency of European governance structures,” said the report.
“The global humanitarian architecture is not able to effectively respond to today’s challenges.
“Although the recent crisis in Europe has dominated headlines, and is reflected in the risk being considered most likely in that region, the challenge is global with most regions affected,” said the report.
Meanwhile, the top five risks in terms of impact are failure to tackle climate change, weapons of mass destruction, water crises, large-scale migration and severe energy price shock.
The rankings are based on a survey of almost 750 experts and decision-makers from the worlds of business, academia, civil society and the public sector.
On a regional level, the biggest threat facing Europe is migration, for the US it is cybercrime and for Africa and South America it is failure of national governance. The MENA region faces the greatest threat from water crises and unemployment, while for central Asia, including Russia, it is energy price shocks and interstate conflict. The largest threat for South Asia is water crises and for East Asia it is natural catastrophes.