The first global citizens?

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

I've been reading the latest report from the Varkey Foundation on what Generation Z thinks about life, the universe, Brexit, etc.  It's here.

Some of it is concerning:

  • only 17% of young people report good overall physical wellbeing
  • in 16 out of 20 countries, more young people believe the world is becoming a worse place to live than believe it is becoming a better place to live
  • only 89% of young people believe men and women should be treated equally

And some seems reassuring:

  • 68% of young people across the world say they’re happy
  • 84% of young people say that technical advancements make them hopeful for the future
  • only 42% of young people say that religious faith is an important part of their lives with 39% claiming that religion is of no significance to them at all
  • at least 89% of young people believe men and women should be treated equally

The Introduction to the report, by Vikas Pota the Chief Executive of the Varkey Foundation, ends like this:

The future of global citizenship

The conclusion of this survey is therefore cause for cautious optimism. The ingredients are there for global progress.  It shows that young people everywhere largely agree on the threats and the opportunities the world faces, and are impatient for Governments to solve problems.  Most already have close friends from other religions.  The clearest division evident is between the optimism of the developing world and the pessimism of the developed world.  And despite the political turn inwards in many developed countries, young people everywhere place great faith in both technological advance and increased communication – which they hope will promote greater cooperation between peoples over the longer term.

Though many negative assumptions are often made about Generation Z – the first generation of ‘digital natives’ – this survey suggests, with hard evidence, that such assumptions are unfounded.  The generation now coming of age was born at a time when technology was shrinking the world.  They are more likely to travel, to migrate across borders, and to forge friendships in other countries than any previous generation.  They could become the first truly global generation for whom divisions across countries, cultures and faiths are not important.  In this darkening political landscape, where international institutions are under greater pressure than at any time since the end of the Second World War, it is reassuring to know that, in the minds of young people, global citizenship is not dead: it could just be getting started.

Whilst I acknowledge that there are some problems that only governments can address, I do hope that today's youth also thinks that it has a role in working together and with others to solve problems, and to prevent them.  It can't be all down to government.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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