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UN Survey Reveals a Deeply Polarized World

United Nations official Fabrizio Hochschild is interviewed by AFP in Bogota, Colombia on Feb. 24, 2016.

A United Nations global survey reveals a world of unprecedented division, polarization and discord. The report, a year-long consultation to mark the U.N.’s 75th anniversary, surveyed more than 1.5 million people in 193 countries about their hopes, fears, and expectations for the future.

The survey paints a picture of a generally fragmented world, but it also finds much of the world united in regard to post-COVID recovery priorities.

Assistant Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild said most people surveyed are united in wanting much better access to affordable health care, education and access to water and sanitation.

“And second, and related is the world seeks much greater solidarity, much greater solidarity with the hardest-hit communities, much greater solidarity with the hardest-hit places," Hochschild said. "And, related to that, an economic model that it does not just boost inequalities, which is the scourge of our time … People are calling for an economy, an economic model that is more inclusive.”

On longer term priorities, Hochschild said environmental degradation and climate change were flagged by respondents as their biggest concerns for the future. Other concerns, he said, include conflict and violence, as well as corruption linked to poverty and employment.

He said he was struck by differences in levels of optimism among survey respondents.

“Perhaps paradoxically, in countries that are the poorest, sub-Saharan Africa, in countries that are the hardest hit by conflict, levels of optimism about the future are the highest," Hochschild said. "And, in the most developed countries, levels of optimism of what the future will look like are lower.”

The report finds 97% of respondents believe international cooperation is important for addressing global challenges. Many respondents, the survey said, look to the United Nations to lead in addressing immediate and longer-term global challenges in a more inclusive, accountable and effective way.