The following is the Executive Summary from the Update on Work of UN75 Office, published in April 2020.
The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great upheaval, as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, exacting a heavy toll on lives, societies and economies in all regions of the world. How we respond will determine how fast the world recovers, and will shape our ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to manage other global challenges.
In January 2020, the UN75 initiative launched a global conversation, inviting people around the world to discuss their priorities for the future, obstacles to achieving them, and the role of global cooperation in overcoming these challenges. The UN75 initiative gathers data and input from the public and stakeholder groups through five streams: a one-minute public survey (www.un75.online); dialogues; public opinion polling; social/traditional media analysis; and a mapping of UN reports, and academic and policy research.
As of March 2020, over 13 million people in nearly all UN Member States had taken part in the initiative, with more than 40,000 completing the one-minute survey, and more than 330 dialogues held in 87 countries. This report contains the preliminary findings of two data streams—the public survey and dialogues—for the period January to mid-March 2020. The results indicate the following key findings:
- The public’s priorities for ‘the world we want to create’ emerging in the UN75 initiative were: environmental protection, protection of human rights, less conflict, equal access to basic services, and zero discrimination.
- The top three priorities emerging from the survey were: environmental protection, protection of human rights, and less conflict.
- The top three priorities emerging from the dialogues were: a more secure/peaceful world; a world with equal access to basic services; and a world without discrimination and with representation based on race, gender, origins, religion, disability and health status.
- When asked whether they believed people would be better off or worse off in 25 years, survey respondents were split almost equally, with optimists slightly outnumbering pessimists; the young generally more optimistic than older age groups; and men generally more optimistic than women.
- The top three global trends emerging in the UN75 initiative are: climate and the environment, armed conflict/ violence, and health risks.
- The top three global trends emerging from the survey were: climate and environment, armed conflict and violence, and health risks.
- We have observed a rise in survey responses that emphasise health risks since early March, and we expect this trend to continue as the effects of COVID-19 are felt around the world.
- Survey respondents who prioritized environmental trends tended to place greater emphasis on the need for countries to work together, than those who prioritized socio-economic and violent trends.
- The main trends discussed in dialogues, in terms of risks and proposed actions, were: 1) Climate and the environment; 2) Poverty and inequality; 3) New technologies; 4) Security threats; 5) Population changes; and 6) A breakdown of trust between governments, and between people and governments.
- An overwhelming majority—95%–of respondents agreed on the need for countries to work together to manage current global trends, with a noticeable uptick as COVID-19 began to spread around the world.
- 95% of survey respondents indicated that international cooperation is either ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ to manage global trends.
- The survey data shows a noticeable uptick in perceived importance of countries working together since late February 2020, as the socio-economic upheaval caused by COVID-19 spread around the world.
- A number of ideas on how global cooperation could potentially be enhanced emerged from the dialogues: adopting more of a bottom up approach to developing solutions; more effective global partnerships and platforms for cooperation/ knowledge sharing; and greater involvement of women, youth, indigenous and vulnerable groups in policy/decision-making.
Amidst the current global uncertainty, the UN75 initiative remains committed to engage people around the world in conversation. We have always placed strong emphasis on online engagement, through virtual events and social media, and we are now scaling up these efforts, in partnership with youth, civil society, business, media, tech and other stakeholders. We will continue gathering input through the five data streams and we will present our findings in September 2020, at the official commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary. After September, UN75 will convene discussions on how best to take forward the findings. We will present the final UN75 report in January 2021.