UN75: The Future We Want, The UN We Need

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN’s worldwide consultation reveals a strong call for action on inequalities and climate change, as well as more solidarity

In January 2020, the United Nations launched the global consultation to mark its 75th anniversary. Through surveys and dialogues, it asked people about their hopes and fears for the future – representing the UN’s most ambitious effort to date to understand expectations of international cooperation and of the UN in particular. It is also the largest survey to date on priorities for recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic

As of 21 September 2020, over a million people from all countries and all walks of life had taken part. Their answers provide unique insights into what the public wants at this challenging time for the world. They are released today to coincide with the UN General Assembly’s official commemoration of the 75th anniversary, held under the banner: the future we want, the UN we need. Key findings include:

Priorities for action

  • Across regions, ages and social groups, respondents were broadly united in their priorities for the future.
  • Amid the current COVID-19 crisis, the immediate priority for most respondents is improved access to basic services – healthcare, safe water, sanitation and education, followed by greater international solidarity and increased support to those hardest hit. This includes tackling inequalities and rebuilding a more inclusive economy.
  • Looking to the future, the overwhelming concerns are the climate crisis and the destruction of our natural environment. Other priorities include: ensuring greater respect for human rights, settling conflicts, tackling poverty and reducing corruption.

Perceptions of the UN

  • Over 87% of respondents believe global cooperation is vital to deal with today’s challenges, and that the pandemic has made international cooperation more urgent.
  • Seventy-five years after its founding, six in 10 respondents believe the UN has made the world a better place. Looking to the future, 74% see the UN as “essential” in tackling the challenges.
  • However, respondents want the UN to change and innovate: to be more inclusive of the diversity of actors in the 21st century, and to become more transparent, accountable and effective.

Press Kit

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Press briefing

Hybrid press briefing by Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for #UN75, on the key findings of the UN75 global consultation and report

Background

In January 2020, the UN Secretary-General launched the UN75 initiative, not as a celebration, but as the world's largest conversation about current global challenges, and the gap between the future we want and where we are headed if current trends continue.

The Secretary-General saw UN75 as an opportunity for the UN to listen to the people it serves and identify their priorities and suggestions for enhanced global cooperation. UN75 was initiated to better understand people’s hopes and fears for the future, inviting people everywhere to imagine the future they want and contribute ideas on how to make it a reality, building a better and more sustainable world, for all.

Through formal and informal surveys, and dialogues held across the world, the exercise was intended to take stock of global concerns and gain views from across the world on what sort of global cooperation is required. It was also intended to re-imagine what role the United Nations might play in helping to address our global challenges.

After the pandemic made in-person gatherings challenging in many parts of the world, the initiative increased its efforts to reach people online, expanding the one-minute survey and social media outreach to shift the dialogues to online settings, where possible. At the same time, it put more emphasis - and resources - on reaching those without internet access: working with UN offices and other partners on the ground, and through telephone and SMS communications.

By adding questions on building back better from the pandemic, it was able to conduct the largest and most diverse global survey to date on post-COVID priorities.

To date, over 1 million people have taken the one-minute survey in all UN Member and Observer States and more than 1,000 dialogues have been held in 82 countries across the world. In addition, 50,000 in 50 countries took part in independent polling by Edelman and the Pew Research Center, and artificial intelligence analysis of social and traditional media was conducted in 70 countries, along with academic and policy research mappings in all regions.

Together, they represent the UN's most ambitious attempt to undertake a global reality check and hear from “we the peoples” on their priorities and suggested solutions to global challenges, providing unique insights into the future we want and the UN we need.

 

Declaration

Across this anniversary year, we have engaged in a global conversation. And the results are striking. People are thinking big – they are also expressing an intense yearning for international cooperation and global solidarity. Now is the time to respond to these aspirations and realize these aims. In this 75th anniversary year, we face our own 1945 moment. We must meet that moment. We must show unity like never before to overcome today’s emergency, get the world moving and working and prospering again, and uphold the vision of the Charter.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

TOP TEN KEY FINDINGS

#1 Amidst the current crisis, the immediate priority of most respondents everywhere is improved access to basic services: healthcare, safe water and sanitation, and education.

#2 The next main priority is greater international solidarity and increased support to the places hardest hit by the pandemic. This includes tackling poverty, inequalities and boosting employment.

#3 While health is the most pressing issue now, respondents were hopeful about this area improving. They also believe access to education and women’s rights will improve.

#4 When looking to the future, respondents’ priorities corresponded to those areas where they believe things will get worse. Most participants across all regions are worried about the future impact of climate change. Our inability to stem the climate crisis and the destruction of the natural environment is viewed by respondents as the most overwhelming medium- and long-term concern.

#5 Other major priorities for the future include ensuring greater respect for human rights, settling conflicts, tackling poverty and reducing corruption.

#6 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.

#7 87% of those surveyed believe international cooperation is vital to deal with today’s challenges. And the majority of respondents believe the COVID-19 crisis has made international cooperation even more urgent.

#8 Looking to the past, six in ten respondents believe the UN has made the world a better place. Looking to the future, 74% see the UN as “essential” in tackling global challenges. At the same time, over half still see the UN as remote from their lives and say they don’t know much about it.

Moreover, while just under half currently see the UN as contributing “somewhat” to advancing key global challenges, only about a third see the UN as contributing “ a lot” in this regard. The areas where the UN is perceived to be contributing most are in upholding human rights and in promoting peace.

#9 Dialogue participants overwhelmingly called for the UN to be more inclusive of the diversity of actors in the 21st century. They identified in particular the need for greater inclusion of civil society, women, youth, vulnerable groups, cities and local authorities, businesses, regional organisations and other international organisations.

#10 Participants in dialogues also called for the UN to innovate in other ways, with stronger leadership and more consistency in exercising its moral authority to uphold the UN Charter. There are calls for increased accountability, transparency and impartiality, including through better engagement and communication with communities, as well as strengthening implementation of programmes and operations.