UN75: the future we want, the UN we need
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.
These are the top ten key findings:
- Amidst the current crisis, the immediate priority of most respondents everywhere is improved access to basic services: healthcare, safe water and sanitation, and education.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Other major priorities for the future include ensuring greater respect for human rights, settling conflicts, tackling poverty and reducing corruption.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 need for greater inclusion of civil society, women, youth, vulnerable groups, cities and local authorities, businesses, regional organisations and other international organisations.
- 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.