Unlike previous anniversary campaigns, which focused on the UN’s historical record, this initiative was about the future and how we can shape it, together. It was about dialogue, with the UN listening and learning, responding and engaging with as many different people and constituencies as possible.
We wanted to reach as many people as possible, so we worked with partners inside and outside the UN system to provide different opportunities for taking part:
- A short survey that could be accessed online, disseminated via SMS and tools such as U-Report, and used to collect data in person
- Physical, phone and online dialogues organised by partners – from UN country teams to community groups, youth movements, NGOs, businesses, cities and gaming platforms
- Formal polling in 50 countries by independent organisations to reach a representative sample of the global population
- Analysis of print, broadcast, online and social media in 70 countries to capture the perspectives of those not being asked a question by the UN
- Mapping of research and academic publications to glean expert insights
The consultation was launched in January 2020 and ran for the whole of that year.
We focused on megatrends – issues that will have significant, transformative global impacts, including climate change, global health, new technologies, gender and other forms of inequalities, new patterns of violence and conflict, and shifting demographics (e.g. population ageing, growth and urbanisation). We worked with partners such as the Pew Research Center and Edelman Intelligence, as well as with UN agencies, to define these issues and craft our surveys and other materials.
However, our list was not intended to be exclusive or prescriptive and our materials provided opportunities for people to suggest and discuss wider topics. For instance, corruption was not explicitly mentioned in our materials but emerged as a theme from our polling and dialogues, and therefore features in our report. Similarly, we updated our materials to include a specific focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery as this became the major issue in the area of global health.
The small UN75 team was heavily supported by the whole UN family, including UN Resident Coordinators, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs), UN Country Teams and Information Centers at the regional and country levels. Their support became even more crucial as COVID-19 spread across the world allowing the UN75 initiative to gather voices from people across the globe, with and without internet access.
In addition, organisations from all sectors supported the UN75 initiative – from large communications firms that provided pro bono support and advertising grants to NGOs on the ground that helped reach communities such as street children and indigenous peoples. The UN also worked with partners from sectors including arts and culture, gaming and sport to reach broader audiences.
Dedicated efforts have been made to reach the marginalized, less privileged and offline voices, including through:
- Our partners on the ground, which included grassroots groups and foundations that work with communities such as incarcerated populations, street children, LGBT+ and survivors of conflict and sexual violence.
- An offline app to capture survey responses, which was used by UN Resident Coordinators’ Offices, SRSGs, UN agencies, funds and programmes and civil society partners in often remote areas at the country level. Around 80 000 responses were captured this way.
- SMS outreach via GeoPoll to capture the voices of those in low-income and rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. Around 2,000 people were reached in Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Mozambique and Tanzania.
- The U-Report social messaging tool and data collection system, which was developed by UNICEF to improve citizen engagement. Around 150 000 people were reached in 14 countries.
- Phone outreach by UN country teams and other partners, to capture survey responses over the phone. The formal polling by Edelman also included phone research in a number of countries to ensure responses were representative of the national population.
- Formal polling by Edelman Intelligence and the Pew Research Center which involved nationally representative population samples (e.g. in terms of income levels, ethnicity, language).
Over the course of 2020, 1.5 million people took part in our consultation – via our survey, dialogues and educational games. We estimate we have reached over one billion with our communications, events and social media outreach.
The regional breakdown of those reached is:
|Central & Southern Asia||25.8%|
|Eastern & South-eastern Asia||10.7%|
|Latin America & Caribbean||7.3%|
|Northern Africa & Western Asia||6.4%|
|Oceania & Antarctica||1.5%|
The gender breakdown is:
The age breakdown is:
|15 or younger||6%|
The education breakdown is:
|Primary or less||18%|
Survey participation was open for all, and promoted throughout all groups and affiliations using a wide variety of amplifiers and intermediaries such as government entities (national and local), national and international youth organizations, the private sector, NGOs, sports federations, influencers and goodwill ambassadors, using social media platforms, free publicity in traditional media and offline means. The scientifically sampled polling by Pew Research Center and Edelman is representative by design, with samples weighted to reflect the population in the countries polled.
The results that emerged from the formal polling, as well as from our own dialogues and surveys, indicate skepticism about the UN, its record in addressing global challenges and its relevance to people’s lives. We also saw criticism towards the organization, including from those highly supportive of it – in terms of it becoming more effective, inclusive, open and accountable. It is striking that nonetheless support for global cooperation was high and that the UN was seen as a vital tool to support this.
The full report is available here. The top 10 findings were:
- Amid the current crisis, the immediate priority of most respondents of all origins is improved access to basic services – healthcare, access to safe water and sanitation and access to education.
- The next main priorities are for greater international solidarity and increased support to the places hardest hit by the pandemic. This includes tackling poverty, inequalities and boosting employment.
- While health is the most pressing issue now, respondents are hopeful about this area improving. They also believe access to education and women’s rights will improve.
- When looking to the future, respondents’ priorities correspond to those areas where they believe things will get worse. Most participants across all regions are most worried about what climate change will do to our future. Our inability to stem the climate crisis and the destruction of our natural environment is the respondents’ most overwhelming concern medium- and long-term concern.
- Other major priorities for the future include ensuring greater respect for human rights, settling conflicts, tackling poverty and reducing corruption.
- Picturing the world in 2045, young participants and those in many developing countries tend to be more optimistic than those who are older, and people who live in developed countries.
- 97% of respondents believe global cooperation is vital to deal with today’s challenges. And the majority believe the pandemic has made international cooperation even more urgent.
- Looking to the past, six in 10 respondents believe the UN has made the world a better place. Looking to the future, 74% see the UN as “essential” in tackling the challenges. However, over half see the UN as remote from their lives and say they don’t know much about it. Just under half currently see the UN as contributing “somewhat” to advancing key global challenges; a third see the UN as contributing “a lot” in this regard. The area where the UN is perceived to be contributing most is in upholding human rights.
- In terms of “the UN we need”, participants are calling for the Organization to be more inclusive of the diversity of actors in the 21st century: civil society, women, youth, vulnerable groups, cities and local authorities, businesses, regional organisations and other international organisations.
- Participants are also calling for the UN to innovate in other ways, with stronger leadership and more consistently exercising its moral authority to uphold the UN Charter. There are calls for increased accountability, transparency and impartiality, including through better engagement and communication with communities, as well as strengthening implementation of programmes and operations
An interim report was published in April 2020, to inform Member States’ negotiation on a political declaration to be adopted by the UN General Assembly on the occasion of the 75th anniversary.
By September 2020, over a million people had taken part in the consultation and the main findings were presented to world leaders and senior UN officials on 21 September 2020, at the official commemoration of the anniversary. A final addendum was released in January 2021, with updated figures. Alongside this, a data platform was published containing all the raw, non-attributable data for download and use by researchers and the public in line with the UN’s data strategy.
At the official commemoration, Member States adopted the Declaration, in which they pledged to respond to the consultation, and tasked the UN Secretary-General with producing recommendations for tackling current and future challenges.
Guided by commitments in the UN75 Declaration and broad dialogues and feedback received through the UN75 initiative, the Secretary-General has launched a process of profound reflection on the future of multilateralism to inform his report and recommendations on “Our Common Agenda”. With international cooperation both more tested and more vital than ever, “Our Common Agenda” will reinvigorate the values, foundations and spirit of multilateralism to achieve these goals and review solidarity within societies, between peoples, and with young people and future generations.
To do so, the Secretary-General will consider inputs and recommendations received from a diverse group of thought leaders from a range of countries and backgrounds, young thinkers under the age of 30 years from all over the world, ‘We the Peoples’ that includes civil society proposals from all regions shared with us through the UN75 global conversation, the private sector, subnational leaders and other non-governmental partners with expertise across the UN75 Declaration themes, and UN Member States. People around the world are speaking, and the United Nations and its Member States are listening and acting.
Through this next phase during the UN’s 75th anniversary of advancing “Our Common Agenda” by reinvigorating inclusive, networked and effective multilateralism, the Secretary-General will propose recommendations for transformative global action to address shared problems, deliver on critical global public goods and prepare for the threats and opportunities of the future. The report will be made available at the end of the 75th session of the UNGA in September 2021.
In addition, the UN75 team has worked with colleagues across the Organisation to identify actions that can be taken by individuals and groups to support the future we want. We also hope that those who participated in UN75 will continue to engage with the United Nations beyond 2020, and that the partnerships developed will become sustainable, helping to take forward collective action.
After the pandemic made in-person gatherings challenging in many parts of the world, the initiative increased its efforts to reach people online, expanding the one-minute survey and social media outreach to shift their dialogues to online settings, where possible. At the same time, it put more emphasis on – and resources into – reaching those without internet access: working with UN offices and other partners on the ground, and through telephone and SMS communications.
UN75 also took on larger significance, serving as a means to engage people amid the growing uncertainty of COVID-19. By adding questions on recovering from the pandemic, UN75 conducted the largest and most diverse global survey to date on post-COVID priorities.
Our surveys and dialogue feedback forms were created by UN75 and hosted by the SDG Action Campaign, part of the UN Development Programme. The survey did not collect any personal data other than what users choose to share (generic information on age, country, gender) and all information was stored and used only by the UN. All non-attributable data is available for download via www.un75.online/data
The UN75 initiative was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2019 through Resolution 73/299 and was supported by UN Member States in a number of ways: including voluntary funding, UN75 dialogues and events, and support with promotion and outreach. Many Member States worked with their UN country teams or information centers, and several organized high-profile events and activities – from concerts to commemorative stamps, youth dialogues to international conferences.
Member States also engaged in an intergovernmental process on a political declaration on the theme of the anniversary: The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism. The co-facilitators of that process, Qatar and Sweden, worked closely with the UN75 team to ensure that Member States were regularly updated on the findings of the global consultation.
The UN75 team worked with a wide range of organisations within and outside the UN system. We built a network of partner organisations, the majority of which represent civil society and youth. This included large NGO coalitions with hundreds of member organisations in all regions as well as small grassroots community groups. We also worked with the UN Youth Envoy and Department of Global Communications to reach their networks.
We consulted widely with the private sector – through the UN Global Compact and International Organisation of Employers. We engaged with cities through organisations such as United Cities and Local Governments, and we worked with senior policy figures through groups such as the Club de Madrid and The Elders. We also received support from telecommunications companies and social media platforms, including Samsung, Vodafone, Google and Facebook.
This list, of course, is not exhaustive as the UN Resident Coordinators, SRSGs, UN Country Teams and UN Information Centers also worked with a range of partners worldwide.
The UN75 consultation was entirely financed through voluntary contributions and did not weigh on the regular budget of the UN. The total budget for the initiative amounted to just under 8 million USD. The cash and non-cash contributions were provided by member states and private funds and organizations.