how safe is the WORLD?

Own Correspondent

Own Correspondent

GENEVA - The latest findings of a global survey carried out for the World Economic Forum shows a lack of faith that the next generation will live in a safer world.

Respondents were asked about prospects for a safer and more economically prosperous world. Results show there is still a lack of optimism on both counts, especially in Western Europe and North America.

The survey, in its fifth year, also found that business leaders are held in better esteem than politicians, but significant proportions still criticise both sets of leaders, with dishonesty heavily associated with politicians.

Gallup International questioned 61600 people in 60 countries for the Voice of the PeopleTM survey. The interviews, between last October and December, represent the views of almost 1,5 billion global citizens. The survey comes ahead of the World Economic Forum yearly meeting in Davos between January 23 and January 27.

Commenting on the findings, Klaus Schwab, the WEF's executive chairman and founder, said: "This is the most comprehensive meeting in the world for tackling increasingly complex problems that face us all. This survey shows that if we are to restore confidence in the future, we need to take concerted, global action."

The findings are consistent with last year's results. They show similar levels of pessimism compared to previous years. A quarter (25 percent) think the world will be a lot or a little safer, but they are outweighed by almost half (48 percent) who feel less optimistic.

Western Europe is the most pessimistic. Two-thirds (69percent) feel the next generation will live in a less safe world while only one in 10 (11percent) feel the world will be a lot or a little safer for the next generation.

North America (US and Canada) is the next most pessimistic region, with 62 percent supporting the view that the world will be a less safe place for future generations, while only 13 percent felt otherwise.

In the Middle East, almost a quarter of those interviewed (23 percent) feel it will be safer, compared with more than half (51 percent) who feel the opposite.

Once again, Western Europe is the most pessimistic. Less than one in five (19 percent) feel the world will be more prosperous for the next generation, while more than half (54 percent) think it will be a lot or a little less prosperous.

Africans are very optimistic about prosperity for future generations, with 71 percent overall in the five countries surveyed stating that the next generation will live in a little or a lot more prosperity than now. This is true of Nigerians (78 percent) and Kenyans (67 percent).

People were also asked what leaders should focus on in the coming year, another trend question since 2004. In previous years, eliminating poverty, promoting economic growth and closing the gap between rich and poor scored marginally higher than the other priorities offered. This year they are joined by reducing wars, the war on terror and protecting the environment.

Respondents were asked to compare the characteristics of political and business leaders. As in previous years, business leaders are rated more positively than politicians, with criticisms of the latter group featuring heavily on their dishonesty - mentioned by six out of 10 global citizens (60 percent) - a considerable increase from the 43 percent who mentioned this last year. Indeed, negative associations with politicians have all increased considerably since last year.

Latin Americans are the most critical of politicians regarding honesty. More than three-quarters (77 percent) said political leaders are dishonest. But seven out of 10 Africans (71 percent) and Americans also think this is a characteristic of their political leaders. In the Middle East (48 percent) and Western Europe (50 percent) citizens are least likely to level this criticism at their political leaders.