The 10 biggest global concerns
From climate change and destruction of nature to lack of education and employment, here's what's worrying the world's young adults.
It seems that just about every generation gets blamed for something; those born in the 1980s and 90s are no different. Going by the accounts of the snarky media, one might come to the conclusion that millennials have, basically, ruined everything … all while eating avocado toast washed down with rose slushies and a side order of ennui.
But as a card-carrying member of Generation X – raised on a steady diet of MTV, punk rock and an unquenchable taste for irony – I say it’s time we start listening to the “kids.” I have to admit, based on the results of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Survey 2017, it looks like they’re on the right track.
For its third annual survey, the forum included 31,000 18-to-35-year-olds from 186 countries and explores perceptions on key issues, from climate change to conflict to food security and more. This year, climate change was the “winner” of worrisome, selected as the top concern by nearly half of the participants. Over 91 percent of respondents answered "agree" and "strongly agree" with the statement "science has proven that humans are responsible for climate change." And while many may consider millennials to be of the lazy persuasion, 78.1 percent said they would be willing to change their lifestyle to protect the environment.
Seems only fair to give this generation of young adults the support they need to drive this planet toward a viable and sustainable future. As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman World Economic Forum, writes in the introduction to the report:
"And now that young people have spoken, the greatest response that we can provide is to demonstrate that we are listening. And the best way to do this is to ensure that these insights influence our decisions and our actions as leaders. No action is too small because every action tells all young people that their views matter and that by sharing their ideas openly and in a constructive way, they can actually contribute to making the world a better place."
Here's how the concerns stacked up. And for the record, the survey was offered in 14 languages, including all official languages of the United Nations.
1. Climate change / destruction of nature (48.8%)
2. Large scale conflict / wars (38.9%)
3. Inequality (income, discrimination) (30.8%)
4. Poverty (29.2%)
5. Religious conflicts (23.9%)
6. Government accountability and transparency / corruption (22.7%)
7. Food and water security (18.2%)
8. Lack of education (15.9%)
9. Safety / security / wellbeing (14.1%)
10. Lack of economic opportunity and employment (12.1%)
The whole report is a fascinating read and there are meaningful insights to be gleaned. Consider these random examples:
While some governments are moving towards isolationism, most of the participants (86.5 percent) said they see themselves as simply "human," as opposed to identifying with a particular country, religion or ethnicity.
Over 78 percent of young people would welcome refugees in their own neighborhood.
More than half (56 percent) of them feel that young people’s views are ignored before important decisions are made in their country.
So now I know. Before I start kvetching about millennials shunning bar soap or being too lazy to eat even cereal, I will remember that this is the generation that will be taking care of the planet during a potentially perilous time; their passion should be met with support, not gripes.