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  • A new report highlights catastrophic risks

    Author: AAP

A new report released by the Commission for the Human Future says the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the issues and challenges faced in a globalised world.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for greater unified global action and government preparedness in the face of risk, a new Australian report has found.

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Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century, which was released on Wednesday by the Commission for the Human Future, identifies 10 "catastrophic risks" which have the potential to harm all or most of human civilisation if not addressed.

Commission chairman John Hewson says pandemic disease is comparable to other risks including climate change, nuclear weapons, ecosystem collapse, food insecurity, global warming and rising sea levels.

"The global pandemic we now face shows how short-term and blinkered are our horizons, how vulnerable and unprepared we are for threats that can shake or collapse our civilisation, even extinguish us as a species," Prof Hewson said in a statement on Wednesday.

A lack of planned government action on a globalised scale means humanity will continue to be ambushed during crises, the former federal Liberal leader added.

"It is essential that humanity develops a shared understanding of the nature and causes of the risks, that we devise integrated solutions and that we take early action to defuse them.

"The longer the delay, the greater the penalty, both economic and in human lives."

According to the report, COVID-19 highlights issues of an intertwined global economy, unpreparedness - particularly within the healthcare system - and general inaction alongside social disconnection.

However, the pandemic provides a template for the type of actions needed to face other catastrophic risks.

"Coming on the heels of severe climate impacts around the world, including droughts, floods, storms and fires, the coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call to all of humanity that we need to do things differently," the report states.

"The pandemic presents an opportunity to change the way we see our world, how we respond as humans to the self-created dangers we face and the opportunities we can seize or create."


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