• Unemployment and underemployment are top concerns for business leaders in 2020, according to a recent survey.
  • Infectious disease risk has leapt 28 places to reach the list's top 10, overriding worries about a failure in critical infrastructure.
  • Environmental concerns are also being given greater prominence, moving up the annual ‘ Regional Risks for Doing Business Interactive Map ’ rankings significantly.

In the uncertain world COVID-19 has created, unemployment and underemployment tops CEOs’ worries for doing business around the world. Concerns about infectious diseases have, unsurprisingly, also joined the list of things keeping them awake at night.

The World Economic Forum's ‘Regional Risks for Doing Business Interactive Map’, which surveyed over 12,000 business leaders from 128 countries, found that unemployment was seen as the most pressing problem companies might face in 2020. It is a perennial risk for businesses, but had fallen into third place behind fiscal crises and cyberattacks in 2019.

risks business unemployment cyber attacks healthcare COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
Unemployment is the highest perceived risk for doing business in 2020.
Image: Regional Risks for Doing Business Interactive Map

Climate concerns

The survey, which was conducted between January and July 2020, asked leaders to select which five risks from a list of 30 are the most concerning for doing business in their country in the next 10 years.

Most of the top risks identified were related to economics, but climate change-related risks are creeping up the board agenda. Although no environmental risks make the top 10 globally, the perceived risk of natural catastrophes has climbed seven spaces and extreme weather events is up five places. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse has risen by eight places and failure to adapt to climate change is up two places.

Nine of the top 10 risks from 2019 are in the top rankings again in 2020, with a failure in critical infrastructure falling out of the ranking as infectious diseases gain in importance.

You can view the Regional Risks for Doing Business Interactive Map here.

Time to reset

The research is part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Initiative which analyzes critical global risks and communicates them to stakeholders and the wider public.

The data is released ahead of the World Economic Forum’s inaugural Jobs Reset Summit (20-23 October) which aims to shape inclusive, fair and sustainable economies, societies and workplaces.

The interactive map has been developed in partnership with Marsh & McLennan Companies, Zurich Insurance Group, and SK Group.