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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 00:34 GMT
Youth poll offers contradictions
By Matt McGrath
BBC World Service

Teenagers laughing
Young people are ready to travel the globe to find a better life
A poll for the BBC World Service suggests that most 15-17 year olds have a global view of the planet, with almost 80% believing they should be able to move anywhere they want.

But this global view is shaken a little by their perspective on climate change - a mere 5% see it as the most pressing problem facing the Earth right now.

Mobility is seen as crucial for the 3,000 young people who took part in the survey, part of the BBC's Generation Next season.

Two-thirds say they would migrate to improve their economic prospects.

Being able to move is seen as so important that one in seven say they would risk their lives to achieve it - in Nairobi this figure was almost one in three respondents.

Right of return

Hania Zlotnik is director of the population division of the department of economic and social affairs at the United Nations. She says the BBC poll data is evidence of aspiration not desperation.

"On the whole the world had coped quite well with a rising population. The last 50-60 years have been a global economic success story, and this desire to be mobile reflects this."

People are now looking at moving on a shorter or temporary basis to find jobs to get new skills and experiences
Jean Philippe Chauzy
International Organisation for Migration

According to figures from the UN, about 3% of the world's population are migrants, a figure that has been rising in recent years.

But the nature of migration is changing according to Jean Philippe Chauzy, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration.

"People are now looking at moving on a shorter or temporary basis to find jobs to get new skills and experiences, the idea is less people leaving their country of origin forever and settling in the host country, but more people are circulating between various countries - migrants are becoming truly trans-national, keeping the door open in the country of origin and at some point if the conditions are right returning to that country."

Climate change ignorance

In the BBC poll, conducted by Synovate, there was an even split between young people who felt it was a good idea to integrate into a new society and those who felt that it was a good idea to keep separate.

While this may reflect the new trend of short-term migration, it also reflected some interesting differences between East and West.


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In New York only 11% felt that people should keep apart, while in Delhi it was 81%.

When asked to name the world's most pressing problem a majority said terrorism. Only 14% of those polled believed that the US war on terror is making the world a safer place. In Baghdad 98% of respondents believed it was making the world less safe.

While terrorism is an issue occupying young minds around the globe, climate change clearly is not - 5% of the poll felt it was the most pressing problem the world was facing at present.

Across the 10 cities, some 17% of young people claimed to have never heard of it. Again the poll reflected an East-West split, with 52% of people in Lagos saying they had not heard of the problem, while in New York this was just 6%.

When it came to the question of doing something about climate change, only those living in the US, Egypt and India were prepared to reduce their standards of living to lessen the impact of global warming.

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