What Do You Think The World Needs More Of?

In celebration of today’s World Humanitarian Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked us to reflect on the following question: What do you think the world needs more of?
Many people hoped that the end of the Cold War in 1991 would bring about global peace and prosperity. Yet the world does not look like a better and safer place today than it did twenty years ago.
Looking at current events, naming one thing that the world needs more of appears easier said than done. Every day, the media reports on crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed because of political, religious, racial or gender affiliations. We hear of economic and financial downturns and people living below the poverty line. We hear of deaths resulting from starvation, lack of drinkable water or proper sanitation. We hear of pandemics, resource depletion, floods and droughts.
In that context, what does the world need more of?
In our most recent wave of societal research via GlobeScan Radar, we asked respondents across 24 countries to assess how serious they thought given challenges were for the world. At the top of the list were crime and violence, with 65 percent of the global public considering them as very serious challenges. These were closely followed by unemployment (60%), rising cost of food / energy (59%), poverty / homelessness (58%) and economic problems (55%) – see chart below.

The majority of these challenges are interrelated. Economic problems impact on job security and inflation, all of which affect poverty and homelessness.
These results highlight a growing feeling of insecurity and vulnerability amongst the general public, whether physical or material. They also pinpoint a general worry about the uncertainty of the future.
Interestingly, of all the challenges that the public was asked about, respect for human rights and inequality (economic and gender) are amongst the lowest percentages of very serious responses. It appears that what respondents consider as the biggest challenges to society are the problems that most often directly affect themselves or the people around them.
Likewise, when asked what they considered to be the most important problem facing their country today (see chart below), 17 percent of respondents said that unemployment is the most important issue, followed by economic problems (16%). Although poverty and crime rank comparatively lower, with only six and five percent of respondents respectively assessing them as the most important problem that their nation has to tackle, they remain in the top five most mentioned issues.

Similarly to human rights and discrimination at the global level it seems that, while remaining perceived as important problems, poverty and crime are trumped at the national level by what most impacts the everyday lives of respondents.
Politics, environment and security also rank in the top five first mentions, further highlighting the diversity of the problems that nations are facing and simultaneously the plethora of needs that people have.
Even when looking only at the most mentioned important societal challenges and national concerns, it is clear that there are many issues that global citizens perceive as threatening or lacking. People need physical security. They need job security. They need economic security, and they need food and water security
Therefore, to give just one answer to Ban Ki-moon’s question, I would say that what the world needs more of can be summarized in two words: human security. That is, the ability for people to live their lives free from fear and secure in the knowledge that their basic needs are being met.
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Analyst, Marie-Solène Prudhomme.