“With the end of the month which imposes itself at the end of the world, the urgent has driven out the important”

Dsince La Fontaine and his fable The Savetier and the Financier, we know that money does not bring happiness and creates many worries. The world decision-makers, who will meet from January 16 to 20 in Davos, had better take some euphoria before starting to read the annual report of the World Economic Forum, which is held each year in this Swiss alpine resort, on the global risks that threaten us.

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Unveiled on Wednesday 11 January, this survey polls nearly 1,200 economic, political and civil society experts and decision-makers every year to find out what they consider to be the main risks threatening our societies in the short term (two years) and long-term (ten years). For several years, the dangers that were at the top of their concerns were the environment and climate change.

For the first time this year, the first short-term risk highlighted by the experts is that of the economic situation. Or rather, to use their terminology, “the cost of living crisis”. The end of the month imposes itself at the end of the world, the urgent has driven out the important. We are now talking about energy, food, inflation and security crises.

Vicious circle

For the Director General of the Forum, Saadia Zahidi, the world has entered a vicious circle where there is a risk of combining economic, political and social difficulties. Inflation destroys purchasing power. To mitigate its effect, the States spend and go into debt, degrading their public finances.

The crisis then becomes political, when there is a lack of money to finance health, education or security, then social, with an aggravation of inequalities and an extreme polarization between rich and poor. This evil cocktail becomes even more deleterious when these difficulties combine with geopolitical tensions, or even wars. The rise in military budgets further weakens the means of public authorities, and therefore the ability to mitigate shocks.

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So what will remain for the important? Because, for the next ten years, decision-makers and experts are formal. The greatest risk that can arise is the failure of policies to limit global warming, and the second, the failure of strategies to adapt to this warming. These are of course not forecasts, but risks, which now haunt people’s minds.

And third on the list is biodiversity loss ultimately leading to ecosystem collapse. American President (1953-1961) Dwight Eisenhower is credited with this aphorism, studied in all management schools: “What is important is rarely urgent and what is urgent is rarely important. » In other words, we must rely on the environmental challenge to resolve the economic and social crisis. This is all the art, and the difficulty, of politics.

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