The opening of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in September 2023 in New York was convened amid heightened global political polarization and multiple crises under the theme “rebuilding trust and reigniting solidarity.” The choice of these words could not be timelier. As the looming climate catastrophe transforms from a prediction into a grim reality, humanity faces perhaps its most formidable challenge to date. It is only through united action and solidarity that we can hope to turn the tide.
Until now, a widely accepted measure of global solidarity and a clear roadmap to achieving it have been elusive. However, the new Global Solidarity Report released by Global Nation in partnership with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Citizen, Glocalities, and Goals House, lays the foundation for a crucial discussion about the current state of global solidarity. The publication assesses whether the global community is making meaningful progress or straining at the seams.
The analysis revolves around three drivers: identities, institutions and impacts
The report’s analysis revolves around three key drivers, identities, institutions and impacts, and examines three lead questions: Do people worldwide share a sense of solidarity with each other? Have we established effective mechanisms for global cooperation? Has our collaborative effort yielded progress or regression?
The report draws on opinion polls carried out by Glocalities covering 21 countries on every continent. In the words of Martijn Lampert, Glocalities Research Director, and Panos Papadongonas, Glocalities Senior Research Consultant, their “annual international surveys capture public sentiment in countries that collectively host more than half of the world’s population. This year, in partnership with Global Nation, we added questions related to international cooperation to our survey questionnaire. The survey was conducted online in two phases, ensuring a nationally representative sample of citizens aged 18 to 70 years, weighted based on census data. An average of 1,000 citizens per country completed both phases, totalling 21,290 respondents. This year’s survey went beyond assessing global citizenship; it measured international cooperation and individual sentiment toward global solidarity.”
The results are sobering. The world finds itself in a precarious “danger zone,” scoring a mere 39 points on a scale of 100. There are glimmers of hope, too, however. Surprisingly, among citizens global solidarity is more pervasive than one might imagine. Twice as many people support leaving harmful fossil resources in the ground compared to those who oppose it. Between 46% and 77% of people in every country surveyed say they agree with international organisations having enforcement powers on issues such as protecting the environment. While feelings of global citizenship vary greatly among countries, on average nearly half of respondents worldwide agreed to the strong statement that “I consider myself more a world citizen than a citizen of the country I live in.”
The disheartening news is that the institutional response has yet to match the gravity of the moment. The consequences of failed cooperation are reaching critical levels: carbon emissions continue to rise, conflict-related fatalities nearly doubled in the past year, and a decade of progress in vaccination coverage has been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To reverse this trajectory and elevate humanity from the brink of disaster demands a monumental institutional response. It requires harnessing the innate solidarity that people worldwide feel and translating it into meaningful action. Without this, faith in the international community will erode gradually, leading to even weaker institutions—a perilous downward spiral.
People share more solidarity than governments
The Global Solidarity Report outlines three urgent calls to action, supported by contributions from world leaders, academics, and activists such as Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, Bangladesh’s Special Envoy on Environment and Climate Change Saber Hossain Chowdhury, WHO Assistant Director-General for Epidemic Intelligence and Surveillance Systems Chikwe Ihekweazu, and incoming Executive Managing Director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Ismahane Elouafi.
- First, “just transition, now” to tackle climate change by providing more incentives for countries to reach net-zero emissions and foster innovation in food systems to aid farmers in adapting.
- Secondly “cooperate against viruses” by expanding the World Bank’s pandemic fund and establishing a global pandemic accord to ensure preparedness for future crises.
- Thirdly, “pool global resources for global objectives” by implementing the Bridgetown Initiative on reforming international development financing, creating a new UN tax body, and reimagining foreign aid as global public investment.
As we return from New York with the echoes of the debates and calls for change, we bear in mind Mia Mottley’s introduction to the Global Solidarity Report:
“The crises we face today, particularly the climate crisis, present challenges greater than those humanity has ever encountered. We cannot stand by as millions of homes and lives, and even entire countries, face the threat of sinking beneath the sea. The only solution to these unprecedented challenges is an equally unprecedented surge in global solidarity. The good news is that people worldwide share more solidarity than governments have hitherto harnessed. We must channel this goodwill into concrete action, for time is a luxury we can ill afford. Our survival depends on a revolution in climate and development financing, one that prioritizes both people and planet.”