G7 urged to act as eight country survey reveals growing sense of insecurity; WMD, escalating conflict, climate change cited as most pressing global risks 

Stockholm – More than two thirds of citizens in an eight country survey want urgent action to tackle major global risks, with strong support for either reform of the current international system or creation of a new global decision-making body to manage threats to humanity.

More than three in five (61%) of the 8,101 adults surveyed by ComRes said they felt the world was more insecure today compared with two years ago. The threats cited by respondents as demanding the most urgent international response were: weapons of mass destruction (62%), escalating conflict (57%) and climate change (56%).  The nationally representative samples in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States reflect the views of nearly half of the world’s population.

The survey was carried out ahead of this year’s G7 Summit in Sicily (May 26-28) where “worries of citizens in a time of geopolitical instability” will top the official agenda. It was conducted on behalf of the Global Challenges Foundation, a Stockholm-based group that today launched its annual report, Global Catastrophic Risks 2017an analysis of the ten greatest risks to humanity and how they are currently governed. 

Mats Andersson, Vice Chairman of the Global Challenges Foundation urged the G7 to strive for greater cooperation to address citizens’ fears.

“As world leaders gather for the G7 Summit, they should be aware that citizens across the planet are yearning for them to collaborate and work harder to find solutions for these critical threats to humanity,” he said. “Whether it’s the spectre of nuclear conflict over North Korea or our planet tipping into catastrophic climate change, the need for effective global cooperation has never been greater.”

More than two thirds of those who took part in the ComRes survey said more should be done to tackle global risks by national governments (76%), sub-national governments (70%), the United Nations (69%), businesses (68%) and regional bodies, e.g. European Union (68%).  However, more than four in five adults (85%) think the UN should be reformed. 

In apparent contradiction to the global trend towards insular nationalism, nearly three quarters (71%) said they thought a new supranational organisation should be created to make enforceable decisions to address global risks. In the United States, support for this kind of organisation has risen from 49% to 67% since 2014 when a similar survey was conducted.

Efforts to limit global warming are high on the global agenda with President Trump expected to make a decision following the G7 Summit on whether the US will pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed by ComRes (88% globally, 84% of Americans) said they would be prepared to make changes that would impact their current living standards if it would prevent future climate catastrophes. 

“The next 50 years will shape our far future over the next 10,000 years and beyond,” said Mats Andersson. “The need for decisive leadership and citizen initiatives to shift businesses, politics and society onto a sustainable path has never been greater than today.”

The Global Challenges Foundation’s report called for a more vigorous and more holistic approach to tackling the biggest risks to humanity.

“Today’s risks are interconnected. We cannot view them or manage them in isolation,” said Mats Andersson.  “Leaders can ignore them because they fall outside the limited scope of their mandate, but silos will not offer protection from the consequences.”

Three quarters (75%) of those questioned in the ComRes survey said they considered themselves to be “global citizens” - in addition to, not instead of, considering themselves citizens of their own countries. Global citizenship was defined in the questionnaire as “the rights, responsibilities and duties that come with being part of the world”.

Notes to Editors:

For more information and interviews please contact:  Helen Palmer, Weber Shandwick on +44(0)7912 242394 or [email protected]

Background on the ComRes survey

An online survey of 8,101 adults aged between 18 and 64 was conducted across: Australia (1,000), Brazil (1,018), China (1,031), Germany (1,001), India (1,013), South Africa (1,038), the United Kingdom (1,000) and the United States (1,000) between 27 April and 10 May 2017. The data were weighted to be nationally representative of the population in each of the country by age, gender and region.

Global Challenges Foundation Report

Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 can be viewed at: https://globalchallenges.org/en/our-work/annual-report. Global catastrophic risks are defined as risks that could impact at least ten per cent of humanity.

Global Challenges Prize 2017: A New Shape

The Global Challenges Foundation is calling for new thinking around how global catastrophic risks are managed by the international community.  The US$5million Global Challenges Prize 2017 – A New Shape is an open competition, seeking ideas for new models of global governance capable of tackling serious global risks. It is open for entries until September 30, 2017. So far the prize competition has received 11,593 registrations of interest from 183 countries and 200 submitted entries from 60 countries.