The AXA Future Risks Report 2022: Geopolitical instability and energy risks rank in top three for first time

24 October 2022

Posted in Surveys and reports

  • UK experts rank geopolitical instability and energy risks within their top three concerns for the first time since the AXA Future Risks Report was launched in 2014
  • Climate change remains the #1 top future risk according to UK experts, in line with all regions of the world for the first time
  • There has been an increase in feelings of vulnerability and a lack of confidence in the ability of institutions to find solutions

AXA’s Future Risks Report published today reveals that energy risks have been ranked within the top three concerns for both the UK public (ranked #2) and risk experts (ranked #3) for the first time since the study was launched in 2014. Energy risks are more of a concern in the UK and Europe than elsewhere in the world, with almost eight in 10 (78%) members of the UK public feeling vulnerable to it in daily life.

Both UK experts and the public said their main reason for choosing energy risks as a priority were rising prices and supply problems. This was particularly the case in the UK and across Europe, where energy supplies are most directly affected by the war in Ukraine. Respondents felt that the rise in energy costs, as well as the general cost of living crisis, could lead to social unrest and geopolitical instability.

The annual report also revealed that geopolitical instability ranked higher than before, with UK experts putting it in second place after climate change and the UK public placing it fourth after climate change, energy risks and pandemics and infectious diseases. When looking at opinions towards geopolitical tensions, almost eight in 10 experts (78%) and three-quarters of the public (74%) felt that geopolitical tensions are getting more and more serious and could lead to a new era of global wars. The UK public felt this most strongly compared to all other regions surveyed. Findings also showed that the vast majority of people are concerned about geopolitical tensions leading to issues with the UK’s food and energy supply (98% of experts felt this was an important consequence of tensions, alongside 93% of the public).

Now in its ninth consecutive year, the AXA Future Risks Report is a global study which measures and ranks changes in the perception of emerging risks via a survey of 4,500 risk experts from 58 countries and 20,000 members of the public from 15 countries. The report is produced in partnership with research institute IPSOS and geopolitical analysis consultancy Eurasia Group.

For the second year running, climate change was the top concern for both experts and the public in the UK. Experts in all regions across the world ranked climate risk as the top risk for the first time.

A third (33%) of UK risk experts and almost half (46%) of the UK general population ranked climate change as the most significant risk. Globally, both experts and the public agreed that climate change has the potential to have the biggest impact on society in the next five to 10 years, but few believe that public authorities are prepared to face the risk.

Experts believe that people around the world are becoming more vulnerable to risks, as rising geopolitical tensions combine with climate concerns and the ongoing fear of pandemics. The findings also reveal growing concerns about financial stability which point to the economic uncertainty brought about by the cost-of-living crisis. Almost half (49%) of the UK public feel vulnerable in everyday life and the report revealed that the UK is more risk averse than the rest of the world, with almost seven in 10 (68%) of respondents saying they try not to take risks.

When experts and the public were asked if they feel vulnerable to specific risks in their daily life, they were more likely to say yes to issues such as pollution, terrorism, chronic illnesses, pandemics and energy. This is despite the fact that the more macro risks, such as climate change and geopolitical instability, ranked higher in the overall risk listing.

The findings of the AXA Future Risks Report demonstrate the critical importance for policymakers and private sector organisations to work together, and insurers were highlighted as having an important role to play in encouraging cooperation. Respondents overall felt that insurers would be able to support by providing innovative risk management tools and helping businesses to assess and plan for future risks, with 70% of the UK general public agreeing that insurers will play an important role in mitigating future risks, alongside almost 90% (88%) of UK experts.

At a time when there is so much unrest and people are struggling, it is no surprise that issues such as energy risks and geopolitical instability feature so highly, not just in the UK but globally. 

It’s concerning that such a large proportion of people feel vulnerable to the risks that surround us and have little confidence in either the Government or private organisations to mitigate them. In this climate of growing vulnerability, mistrust and scepticism, insurers can offer people reassurance by providing support and helping to protect against a range of risks. 

The report confirms that people do recognise the safety net insurance provides and understand its benefits, particularly in these uncertain times. However, we need to continue working hard to raise awareness among those who perhaps don’t yet understand the importance of having protection for what matters to them and how this can help reduce these feelings of vulnerability.

Claudio Gienal, CEO at AXA UK and Ireland
Claudio Gienal, CEO, AXA UK and Ireland

AXA UK Future Risks Report 2022 - stats in brief


In total 4,500 experts from 60 countries were interviewed for AXA’s Future Risk Report 2022

  • 404 of those experts were based in the UK

UK experts Top 10 Future Risks ranking per percentage of respondents

  1. Climate change
  2. Geopolitical instability
  3. Energy risks
  4. Cyber security risks
  5. Social tensions and movements 
  6. Natural resources and biodiversity risks
  7. Pandemics and infectious diseases
  8. Macro-economic risks
  9. Financial stability risks
  10. Monetary and fiscal policies risks

General Population:

The survey of 20,000 people was conducted in 15 countries among representative samples of the population aged 18+

  • 1000 adults in the UK

UK general population Top 10 Future Risks ranking per percentage of respondents

  1. Climate change
  2. Energy risks 
  3. Pandemics and infectious diseases
  4. Geopolitical instability
  5. Cyber security risks
  6. Natural resources and biodiversity risks
  7. New security threats and terrorism
  8. Financial stability risks 
  9. Pollution
  10. Social tensions and movements