Triple whammy threat to global economy pointed up by WEF

Before Davos summit starts, World Economic Forum issues its annual report on global risk

LAST UPDATED AT 09:45 ON Wed 9 Jan 2013

CLIMATE change, debt and financial inequality are the three biggest threats to the global economy in 2013, the World Economic Forum has warned ahead of its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The warnings come in the WEF's Global Risk Report which shows that, for the second year running, the widening income gap, chronic fiscal imbalances and greenhouse gas emissions were seen as the three most likely threats to emerge over the coming decade.

Of those risks considered likely to have the biggest impact on the global community, a major systemic financial failure and a water supply crisis were again deemed to be the most serious, followed by chronic fiscal imbalances, food shortages and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

As The Guardian reports, the WEF document is put together by 1,000 experts and sets the agenda for the Davos summit which attracts world political and business leaders to talk about the world's future amid ski sessions and lavish parties.

The 2007 report correctly predicted that a global asset price collapse could occur but it failed to recognise the approaching credit crunch.

The Forum also raises the spectre of an 'internet wildfire' - worldwide social panic caused by online rumour-mongering.

"Social media allows information to spread around the world at breakneck speed in an open system where norms and rules are starting to emerge but have not yet been defined. While the benefits of our hyper-connected communication systems are undisputed, they could potentially enable the viral spread of information that is intentionally or unintentionally misleading or provocative," the report says. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.