What are the most pressing issues for people around the world? What are their hopes and fears for the next 25 years? How can we overcome challenges like COVID-19 and the climate crisis? And what role does international cooperation play in facing them? The United Nations (UN) posed these and other questions in a global conversation. The now published final report “Shaping Our Future Together” compiles the results, concluding that the respondents recognize many challenges yet are still optimistic.
Over the past year, more than 1.5 million people from 193 countries took part in the UN initiative through polls, virtual discussion sessions, and exchange formats. The published report collates all of the responses that were gathered and shows concrete demands for action. UN Secretary-General António Guterres now sees the responsibility on the part of the United Nations: “The UN75 global consultation showed that 97 percent of respondents support international cooperation to tackle global challenges. That represents a very strong commitment to multilateralism, and to the mission of the United Nations. Now it is up to us – Member States and the UN Secretariat – to meet the expectations of the people we serve.”
“It is up to us to meet the expectations of the people.”
The final report shows that in the short term, respondents want better access to basic services such as health care, education, and clean drinking water. On the longer term, people see climate change as the greatest threat to our future. Other relevant subject areas include employment opportunities, human rights, and overcoming conflicts. Yet despite the many challenges, respondents are optimistic about the future: A majority believe that our living conditions will have improved by 2045. Respondents are united in their belief that international cooperation is essential to overcoming global challenges, and that the UN plays a decisive role in achieving that.
Expansion of the interim report
In contrast to the interim report “The Future We Want, the United Nations We Need,” which was presented to Heads of State and Government of the UN Member States during the official commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary last September, the organization has updated and further elaborated on the results of the survey in the final report. Also, the revised report contains a variety of respondents’ recommendations for action and suggested solutions to global challenges. It was then compared how the suggestions of the respondents match the political commitments by the UN member states. As part of the commemoration ceremony in September, they passed a historic resolution in which twelve commitments for increased international cooperation are formulated. The UN75 initiative revealed various proposals for each of these commitments, in areas ranging from participation of vulnerable groups and meaningful participation of young people to international disarmament and peacekeeping or the robust and innovative management of climate change.
The UN pledges to further build on this rich background information: By means of a digital platform, the data will be made available to experts and researchers around the world as well as to the general public, along with a variety of evaluation options and illustrations. In addition, the results will serve as a guide for the UN Secretary-General’s further reflections on the future of multilateralism: By September 2021, he aims to present recommendations to the UN Member States on how the spirit, values, and fundamentals of international cooperation can be renewed – for a stronger UN on its 100-year anniversary, for a clear and direct path to better living conditions in 2045.