UN survey: Climate, conflict, health top future concerns

April 20, 2020 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A survey of over 40,000 people in 186 countries on global trends that will most affect the future put climate and the environment at the top followed by conflicts and health risks, which increased as the coronavirus pandemic was felt around the world, the United Nations reported Monday.

The survey, part of an initiative marking this year’s 75th anniversary of the United Nations, also found that 95 percent of respondents said international cooperation is “essential” or “very important” to tackle those trends, with a noticeable uptick from late February when COVID-19 was spreading.


Preliminary results of the one-minute online survery from Jan. 1 to March 24 also showed the global public’s priorities for “the world we want to create”: protecting the environment, protecting human rights, less conflict, equal access to basic services, and zero discrimination.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the initiative, which will continue throughout the year, to get feedback from people around the world on their views of major concerns, how they see the world in 2045, and global cooperation.

The U.N. said the findings will be presented at the official 75th anniversary commemoration in September. It will then launch discussions on how best to take forward the results and present a final report in January 2021.

Guterres said in a statement that he looks forward to using the initiative and the 75th anniversary “milestone for reflection on the multilateral cooperation the world needs at this time, both in addressing the immediate pandemic and in achieving the longer-term goals for which the United Nations was founded.”

When survey participants were asked, “Overall, do you think that people in 2045 will be better off, worse off, or the same as you are today?”, the U.N. said optimists slightly outnumbered pessimists.

According to the results, 45.2 percent said the world will be better, 42.1 percent said it will be worse, and 12.7 percent said it will be about the same.

When those responses were looked at in terms of gender and age, the U.N. said across all age groups men were more optimistic than women and children under the age of 15 were by far the most optimistic. “This optimism, on average, reduces significantly among youth and young adults,” it said.

In addition to the online srvey, the UN75 initiative includes future-focused dialogues, public opinion polling and analysis of print, broadcast, online and social media.

As of March 2020, the U.N. said over 330 dialogues were held in 87 countries, and summaries from 56 of them in 32 countries were submitted.

Preliminary analysis of those 56 dialogues found the following main trends, in terms of risks and proposed actions: climate and the environment; poverty and inequality; new technologies; security threats; population changes; and a breakdown of trust between governments, and between people and governments.