10 October 2017

Worldwide a substantial majority of those aged between 18 -35 are optimistic and see the world as full of opportunity, even though only 50% believe they can actively contribute to decision-making in their countries.  That is a conclusion drawn from responses to the Global Shapers Annual Survey for 2017 released last month under the auspices of the World Economic Forum. The survey is compiled from responses of about 25,000 members of the Global Shapers Community –  with input proportional to nationality.  The New Zealand hub had 20 respondents (30% male).  (Perhaps the less forceful influence of young voters on the general election results than the predicted “youthquake”, confirms the survey finding that many young people question whether they can actively contribute to decision-making in their country.)

The survey shows that climate change and large-scale conflicts are real global concerns to those under 35.   As in previous years the most serious global issue is “climate change/destruction of nature” ( 48.8% of votes ).  “Large-scale conflict/wars” is ranked second,  and third is “inequality (income, discrimination)”  with 38.9% and 30.8% of votes respectively.

The Middle East and North Africa is the only region that ranks “large-scale conflict/wars” as the top issue (53.6%)  followed by “religious conflicts” (38.8%) and “poverty” (29.9%).

Reflecting concern for climate change, over 91% of young people “agree” and “strongly agree” with the statement that “science has proven that humans are responsible for climate change”. There is striking difference though between different income-level economies. In the low-income category, only 37.8% “strongly agree”, while across the other income-level groups no fewer than 71% “strongly agree”.

With the exception of Oceania, respondents consider that corruption remains the most pressing concern in their own countries.   “Government accountability and transparency/corruption” again ranked 1st with 46.9% of votes globally. It is followed by “inequality” (38.1%) and “lack of economic opportunity/ employment” (30.5%).

Apparently young Australians and New Zealanders see things differently.   “Climate change/destruction of nature” continues to be their top concern (63.3%) both globally and at the country level.  For the 238 Australian and New Zealand respondents (designated as Oceania), climate change is more than a global issue.  The survey observes that “ it is something that affects young people in their everyday life and that is already affecting their future and immediate environment”.