Pandemics and infectious diseases continue to top the list of concerns for Asia Pacific risk experts 

AXA has released the eighth edition of its Future Risks Report, which places climate change risks back at the top of the global ranking.

Awareness of climate-related risks is highest in Europe, where experts and the public once again place this at the top of the list. It is only in third place in Asia and the Middle East and only in fourth place in Africa, where the pandemic remains the main concern.

More than half (53%) of the overall European population and 62% of experts ranked climate change as their highest risk.

Globally, experts agreed that climate change has the potential to have the biggest impact on society in the next five to 10 years, however, the wider global public see it as the second most concerning risk, behind pandemics and infectious diseases.

When it comes to who is best placed to deal with risks like climate change, the study shows that, on a global level, people believe governments are underprepared to tackle the challenge, with just one in five (19%) of experts saying that public authorities can help mitigate the climate crisis. 

Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA said: ”This edition is marked by the return of climate change as the number one risk, but also by the strong concern regarding cyber risk. In the aftermath of the health crisis, this report also reveals our society’s high expectations towards public and private players to offer new and collective protection to face constantly evolving risks.”

The report shows that people feel governments need to do more to mitigate climate and environmental risks. It’s also clear that the insurance industry can play a larger and more visible role in making meaningful and sustainable changes.

“At a time when life has been dominated by other important issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and economic instability, it is perhaps surprising that climate change would top the list,” said Claudio Gienal, CEO, AXA UK and Ireland. ”However, this clearly demonstrates that for many people climate change is a very real risk which is fast approaching, if not already upon us.

Firm focus on cyber

The study reveals a strong concern about cyber risk in a context still marked by the acceleration of the digital transformation and the explosion in the number of cyber attacks. This risk is ranked in second place for Asia Pacific respondents.

The pandemic risk, which was ranked first last year, has dropped to third place in the experts’ rankings overall, but remains the top concern for risk experts in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. 

Overall, more than 70% of respondents say they are concerned about the risks of infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and the impact of long-term exposure to toxic substances.

In general, the survey reveals a low level of confidence in the ability of governments to address these risks alone. Faced with increasingly complex risks, more than 55% of respondents consider that a collective and global approach is the most appropriate way to propose effective solutions.

The findings are revealed in this year’s AXA Future Risks Report, a global study which measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks via a survey of 3,500 experts and 19,000 members of the public. The report is produced in partnership with research institute IPSOS and geopolitical analysis consultancy Eurasia Group.