One million people share hopes and fears for future with the UN
- The results are in from a massive, unprecedented crowd-sourcing survey of international opinion, launched in January 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
Participants from all walks of life, women, men, girls and boys in developed and developing countries were encouraged to share their hopes and fears for the future and how the UN can help to bring about change.
No matter where they came from, their background, age or gender, participants in the exercise were, the UN has said, “remarkably unified” in their vision of the future.
Here are five key findings from the report published by the UN:
Better basic services
The whole world remains gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the immediate priority of most people who took part in the survey, which has been continuing throughout the global lockdown caused by the pandemic, is improved access to basic services; these include healthcare, water and sanitation as well as education. Many believe that access to education and women’s rights will ultimately improve.
Here’s what one respondent in Mexico had to say: “The virus has taken away jobs, interactions, education and peace. Fear is everywhere, and people are not responding well to it”.
More international cooperation
The COVID-19 pandemic has, according to the United Nations, underlined the need for international cooperation in order to develop, produce and distribute a vaccine so all countries, rich and poor benefit.
It’s part of the importance the UN places on multilateralism; countries working collaboratively and productively in the common good.
And it seems many of the one million respondents agree that is a good thing; a significant 87 per cent of people believe that international cooperation is vital to deal with global challenges and that COVID-19 has made international solidarity even more urgent.
One respondent from Albania underlines the importance of shared social responsibility; “It is of paramount importance that the recovery must be built upon the spirit of humanity. The lesson we learnt from the pandemic is that literally no one is safe unless everyone is safe”.
The apparent inability of humankind to slow down the warming of the planet, prevent irreversible climate change and the resulting destruction of the natural environment is the overwhelming medium- and long-term concern of the people who were surveyed. Other long-term concerns include an increase in poverty, government corruption, community violence and unemployment.
A young person from China says everyone is affected by climate change: “Current global climate change as a result of environmental pollution is putting individuals and whole populations at increased risk”.
More UN engagement
Looking to the past, six in ten respondents believe the UN has made the world a better place and 74 per cent say that the UN is “essential” if global challenges are to be effectively tackled. However, over half of all people who answered the survey still don’t know much about the UN and consider it as “remote” from their lives.
Many recommended establishing a youth council to advise senior UN officials and one respondent from Brazil suggested more engagement at a regional and local level: “The UN could act by making greater engagements with regional and local actors, investing in the future by providing means that foster the development of the autonomy of social actors.”
Belief in a better future
When it comes to the future, younger participants and those in many developing countries tend to be more optimistic than those who are older or living in developed countries. People in central and southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa tend to be more optimistic than those living in Europe and North America.
“No one is powerless.” says a 17-year-old high school student from Japan.
How did the Belarusians vote?
The majority of Belarusians, of whom 77.2% were young people aged 16 to 30 years (70.8% - women, 87.7% - people with secondary and higher education), chose strengthening of solidarity between people and nations and rethinking of mechanisms of the global economy as the absolute priority of recovery from the crisis caused by the pandemic. They also believe that support of the most seriously affected countries and communities is necessary and human rights are to become the key element of the recovery plans.
Having noted that climate change, ecological problems and health risks will have the biggest effect on the future of our planet the Belarusians state that after 25 years of joint efforts the countries will manage to reduce the number of conflicts and achieve healthcare and ecology improvement. They also hope to see more respect for and observance of human rights and improvement of access to education.
Among the answers to the question on global trends, which will affect the future of our planet the most, ecological problems and climate change were listed by the Belarusians far ahead of other challenges as well as health risks, armed conflicts and politically motivated violence.
The survey demonstrated that cooperation with other states to manage the above trends is considered as very important by the Belarusians. Finally, the citizens of our country are optimists as the majority of them are sure that in 2045 they will live better or, at least, not worse than today.