24 October 2019: The UN Secretariat has announced it is organizing a public consultation to generate a global vision for the year 2045, the 100th anniversary of the creation of the UN. The process aims to improve international institutions to meet the aspirations reflected in the 2030 Agenda and bolster the environment for international cooperation.

Beginning in January 2020, the UN will convene dialogues around the world with “all segments and generations of society,” with a particular focus on listening to youth and marginalized groups. Discussion moderators will utilize a one-minute survey methodology to create a digital feedback loop. Other methodologies for the consultation include a global scientific survey conducted with the Pew Foundation, and artificial intelligence (AI) “sentiment analysis” of social media feeds. Global Pulse and other partners in the UN system will help with processing the input.

Rather than changing public opinion, “we should be letting public opinion change us.”

The views and ideas resulting from the dialogues will be presented to world leaders and senior UN officials at a high-profile event on 21 September 2020, when the UN will mark the 75th anniversary of its establishment.

Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary, briefed reporters on the “UNat75” process on 24 October 2019 – which also marked UN Day. Hochschild said the consultation will focus on three areas:

  • Defining the future we want, looking towards 2045;
  • Identifying global megatrends leading the world away from that vision; and
  • Ideas for improving global cooperation.

Hochschild said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres does not see the upcoming anniversary as a moment for celebration, but an impetus to address an unfolding “retreat” from international cooperation and the institutions set up to foster it. Therefore, the UN is holding a conversation, “not one that idealizes our current institutions” but a process to make international cooperation function better. This course correction would focus on gaps between where we are headed if current megatrends continue, and the global aspirations for a better future as reflected in the 2030 Agenda.

The views collected will feed into Guterres’ presentation to UN Member States at the anniversary commemoration in September 2020. It will take the form of user-friendly material including a report, films, and broadcast materials aimed at reaching leaders across the world, said Hochschild.

The UNat75 website includes “issue pieces” to spur debate on the key megatrends (climate crisis, inequality, new forms of conflict and violence, rapid changes in demography and digital technologies), a series of videos, and other resources.

Asked what should be done to change public opinion in countries where there is low confidence in the UN, Hochschild said that rather than changing public opinion, “we should be letting public opinion change us.” The consultation process is a tool for determining how the UN can and should improve, by gathering critical voices and meet their aspirations, in order to renew current institutions. [UN press release]