Nature and Biodiversity

Weekend reads: Climate inaction and human rights, the space economy, diversifying genetic data, and more

Apr 8, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; A General view of the the moon beginning to eclipse the sun in front of the Scotiabank Arena before a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The space economy is expected to be worth $1.8 trillion by 2035 as satellite and rocket-enabled technologies become increasingly prevalent, according to a new World Economic Forum report. Image: USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Julie Masiga
Communications Lead, Centre for Health and Healthcare, World Economic Forum
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Climate and Nature

  • This weekly roundup brings you top reads for the weekend from Agenda.
  • The take: genetic variants from a new dataset can help scientists better understand the genetic influences on health and disease, especially in communities that have been left out of research in the past.
  • By the numbers: the space economy is expected to be worth $1.8 trillion by 2035 as satellite and rocket-enabled technologies become increasingly prevalent, according to a new report.

Look beyond the headlines for these thoughtful expert insights and one-of-a-kind features that put the world's biggest changes into fresh context.

This week, good news from a research programme in the US that's uncovered more than 275 million genetic variants that weren’t known about before; a landmark case from the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that governments' failure to protect their citizens' health from the effects of climate change is a "violation of the right to respect for private and family life"; a new Forum report that looks into the future of space, projecting that it will be a larger part of the global economy by 2035; and some exciting news on hydrogen from Japan.

The take:
Genetic data must be more diverse

One million people from historically underrepresented ethnic and social groups are being invited to help build “one of the most diverse health databases in history”.

The $3.1 billion All of Us Research Program in the United States hopes to accelerate research that could improve health and is led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the main US government agency for conducting and supporting medical research.

Read about the 275 million genetic variants that weren’t known about before and have already been uncovered.

Closing gaps in health and wellbeing is the core focus of the World Economic Forum’s Global Health Equity Network, which aims to tackle the root causes of health disparities by bringing together communities, government, civil society and the private sector to drive systems change.

Learn more about the Forum's Global Health Equity Network.

The shift:
European court rules that climate inaction is a human rights violation


This week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that governments' failure to protect their citizens' health from the effects of climate change is a "violation of the right to respect for private and family life."

The effects of Tuesday’s decision could trickle down to dozens of European countries. One expert described its impact as “huge.”

It may yet prove to be a decisive moment for human rights-based climate litigation, which has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years. It will almost certainly put the many countries failing to hit their climate targets on notice.

And for more on Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Human Health, this report is an economic analysis of how climate change will reshape health landscapes over the next two decades.

Have you read?

The opportunity:
Space is approaching a new frontier

Space-enabled technologies drive everything from weather forecasts to increasingly ubiquitous smart gadgets such as smart watches.

Yet space technologies are also delivering benefits to an even wider range of stakeholders, with industries such as retail, consumer goods and lifestyle, food and beverages, supply chains and transport, and disaster mitigation all set to benefit from space innovations.

In the next few years up until 2035, space will be a larger part of the global economy; its impact will increasingly go beyond space itself, becoming more about connecting people and goods, and its return on investment will be more than financial.

The stat:
Japan and hydrogen

In June 2023, the Japanese government revised its Basic Hydrogen Strategy to support corporate initiatives.

This strategy identifies nine key technologies, including fuel cells and water electrolysis devices and aims to invest over JPY 15 trillion ($98.8 billion) over the next 15 years. It also aims to increase hydrogen usage to 12 million tonnes annually by 2040.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Nature and BiodiversityClimate ActionEmerging TechnologiesEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
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