Question box #4

When I think about the future, what worries me... for the world

Photo: Ali Rizvi


When they imagine what the future of the world will be, nearly a third of the youth express deep-seated concerns about environmental problems, geopolitical tensions, and economic problems. Their thoughts convey an acute awareness of current issues, and reveal their anxiety concerning their own ability to do anything to avert these crises. Their concern even goes as far as to resemble genuine fear, engendered by a chaotic vision of the future of our planet.

Global learnings

When they look at what the future holds, the youth of the world reveal a maturity that shows in the gravity of their concerns. Nearly 40% of these young citizens of the world see environmental issues as their main cause for concern. Climate change, far from being a simple meteorological inconvenience, is seen as the detonator of a chain of major crises: destruction of biodiversity, rising sea levels, increased frequency of natural disasters, economic collapse owing to the depletion of natural resources, massive climate-driven migration, and, the sum of all these woes, an escalation in inequality, violence, and insecurity.

For 20% of young people, in second place comes their apprehension when confronted with the constant shadow of wars and conflicts that hangs over the future. This is no irrational fear: they are afraid of the devastating repercussions that the latest weapons might have, particularly the world’s nuclear arsenal. This fear echoes the hunger for peace and stability discussed in question 2 of the consultation.

The economic situation is a worry for 17% of participants. The critics of capitalism, of whom there appear to be many, criticize an economic model that they consider to be both unsustainable and the cause of overconsumption and materialism, thereby engendering environmental and social degradation. Moreover, they bring to the fore such immediate concerns as the increasing cost of living, the lack of job opportunities, and the threat posed by technological progress in the job market.

A fifth of participants highlighted key societal and political challenges. They are worried about the upsurge in crime and brutality, the increase in discrimination, particularly towards women and minorities such as LGBTQI+, and the growing sense of insecurity. Regarding politics, extremism is gaining ground and both politicians and decision-makers are regarded with growing distrust, their reputation besmirched by accusations of corruption, greed, and self-interest.

Lastly, it is worth noting that 3% of participants foresee a dark, even apocalyptic, future and fear a total collapse of our world, illustrated by destruction, chaos, and catastrophe. This pessimistic view, despite being held by a minority, should make us think: it reflects a deep-seated disenchantment and a feeling of helplessness in the face of major challenges.

Overview of the main themes

You will find below a graph in which you can navigate to learn more about the themes brought by the participants. Each theme (also called “cluster”) relates to an idea expressed by participants. There are two types of clusters: macro-clusters, which relate to more general categories, and sub-clusters, which break down the ideas into finer detail and are attached to macro-clusters. The percentages displayed correspond to the number of participants who have written about this theme among all participants who answered the question. For readability, only clusters cited by more than 1% of participants are displayed.

The representation below is dynamic: tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters.

Differences between world regions

The environment, of universal concern

Environmental concerns transcend borders and echo in the minds of young people worldwide. In every region, the environment is a core concern for our future leaders, with the exception of the Middle East and North Africa, where geopolitical tensions are felt more keenly.

Each region, however, has its particularities. The young people of North America, Europe and Central Asia are particularly concerned about political challenges, especially issues like governance, transparency, and representativeness in democracies. On the other hand, poor human behavior is a theme that often comes up in contributions from young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia, where they talk of a crying need for humanity and solidarity to help build a better future.

Tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters to compare regions.

Some remarquable answers from the entire world

Man, 21United Kingdom
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When I think about the future, what worries me for the world is the increasing inequality and social injustices that persist. I am concerned about the divisions that exist within society, whether it be based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, or other factors. The pressing issues of poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to basic necessities trouble me deeply. Additionally, the ongoing environmental challenges, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, are sources of great concern. I worry about the long-term consequences these issues may have on future generations and the sustainability of our planet. It is crucial that we address these concerns collectively and take proactive steps to create a more equitable, inclusive, and environmentally conscious world.
Man, 24Malawi
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I worry about the continued destruction of the environment and the effects of climate change. I worry about food security and the ability of vulnerable communities to access basic resources. I worry about the continued rise of inequality and a lack of access to quality healthcare and education. I worry about the future of democracy and the erosion of human rights, particularly in authoritarian regimes. I worry about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the potential for catastrophic conflict.
Man, 26Tunisia
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The problem of climate change is major. I believe that the highest carbon emitting countries must take action to combat the considerable effects caused by climate change. If this is not the case, these countries must assume their responsibilities towards previous generations who have suffered the consequences of their past emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions impact the environment for decades and even centuries, which means that current generations must take into account the environmental legacy left by previous generations. The countries that emit the most carbon must therefore assume their responsibility towards previous generations by taking measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and by contributing to the transition towards a greener economy.
Woman, 25Comoros
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What worries me for the world is to see that there are people capable of reaching out to others but they prefer to close their eyes and let people die of starvation or because they could not buy medications. And also the fact that young people are ignored, things that lead to harmful consequences not only for these young people but also for the country.
Woman, 24Chile
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It worries me a lot that people are very disconnected from what is happening around them, they do not get involved, they do not connect with other people, they seem distant from other people's pain, they do not empathize, there is no common good, just a lot of people living in the same same planet but with vague purposes
Woman, 23Canada
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That the planet will continue to decay and we will be living in a barren world, only livable for the 5% that happen to live in the west/Europe. I fear that crops won't be able to grow, that the air will always be smoky and polluted, that wildfires will become a norm. We will have to live with the guilt that we humans have killed off entire species because of our actions, that we have destroyed the planet which gave us life, and so, we destroyed ourselves.
Woman, 18Nepal
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I worry about the natural resources to be honest. Nature are so good on their own but when trying to invent new things people slightly harm the natural resources but that didn't mean like to stop using it, at least keep their value and use it wisely .. so that the whole world gets fresh air and environment.
Woman, 19Russia
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Global warming. It's the craziest thing that is going right now on Earth. When I read a lot of scientific articles about the greenhouse effect and about the consequences of it-I was shocked. I don't want to leave the planet where my children and their children will be impacted by our human activity. So,in my mind, we should learn how to step by step stop global ecological problems. Maybe, it should be learned from the early age in schools and universities.
Man, 28South Korea
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I am concerned about the increasing inequality we see in many societies, as well as the ongoing degradation of our environment. The impacts of climate change are already becoming apparent, and it worries me that we might not be acting fast enough to mitigate its worst effects.
Woman, 21Brazil
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Fear that the world will continue the way it is or that it will get worse, people without discernment deciding important things, cancel culture, languages dying, ego protruding the echo and voluntary blindness to certain things in life, such as injustice and other causes. I am afraid that it will not change and that they will continue not to care about essential things, that the population rate will grow and our resources will decrease, either due to lack of preparation or awareness of what is happening.

Interviews from all over the world