Will the UN's Millennium Development Goals be achieved?
The BBC is launching a new series looking at who holds the power in the world around us.
The Who Runs Your World season will explore power - who wants it, who has it and who needs it.
We are also planning to explore how the nature of power itself is changing, from the corridors of power to the streets of the world's cities and we want to hear your thoughts on these issues.
Who runs your world? Who holds power over you, or who do you hold power over? Who, or what, most affects your everyday life? Who are better at holding power - men or women? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views received:
Knowledge and education undoubtedly is what makes the world turn. The momentum of 6 billion people moving in a common direction cannot be initialized unless the people know where and how they are going to follow a particular path, or not to follow it, even. Those in control are really those who surround and control the educational institution. Through education, society's direction is set and/or changed, and can mean accountability or none for those who propagate what is taught. Through education, we are ordained our place based on achievement and knowledge (a natural aristocracy), or in some places, because we are told to or by birth. We can therefore say that power is given to those who are either educated themselves and educate others, or those who are exceptional at hiding education and knowledge from the masses; be they educated or not, themselves. The parts we see on the news, and in our daily lives, is how it all plays out.
Noah B, Boston, MA, United States
It's what we value that in essence determines who we believe holds power over us. Those who value religion believe that it is their belief that effects what occurs around them while other who value wealth believe that it is aspects concerning money and economy that are in control. Those who value people, family and relationships believe that it is those people who hold control over them. It is depending on perspective. For me to determine who holds power over me, I must simply unearth what it is I really value and therein I will find an answer to my question.
Haroon, Calgary, Canada
Gaia - Mother Earth rules my world. My entire spare time is spent on growing things in my garden and tending to it. Trees, plants, flowers, vegetables, seeds. insects, birds and bees consume my life.
Reaz Haque, Hingham, MA ,USA
'My' world is run by the people who are important to me. 'The' world is run by nobody. We all take a greater or smaller part. From time to time it looks like some group or country in particular is in control, but that's transitory at best.
Paul, Bucks, UK
It's just fallacious to claim that individuals run their world. The fact is; external as well as internal forces run each person's world. The latter play a considerable role varies depending on the geo-political and cultural location of the individual.
Musyimi Syanda, Poland
Power is held by the people, that is without question. No organisation or person can withstand the sheer weight of force 6 billion people can bring to bear. However, the way the exercise that power is controlled by whoever can make them most afraid, or paranoid. So although we have the power, we do not have control. Media and pressure groups have that, although they don't all work cooperatively which leaves the people with a modicum of freedom to choose.
My 4-year-old daughter runs my world, there is very little I do or don't do that doesn't concern her in some way.
If you want real power look to the NGOs and religious leaders. NGOs have no share holders, no customers - they rely on government money and public donations yet they dictate where they spend the money. An email from Greenpeace can bring the chairmen of big oil companies to their knees. A well timed press release can have thousands protesting on the streets - no company can command this sort of support for all their loyalty cards. Religious leaders are much the same - no one elects them - they claim divine rights and so set themselves above criticism (likewise try complaining about the activities of NGOs and see vitriol you get by way of reasoned argument). Corporations have to answer to shareholders, customers and staff. Politicians to voters. But bishops, ayatollahs, imams, druids whatever stand above the fray of accountability. Think of that next time you are tempted to make a donation instead of buying a Big Mac.
Huw Sayer, London, UK
My world is run by two factors. First the bad road from where I live to the express road and the ever present traffic jam to and from my office at Lagos Island. Secondly, my world is run by the determination to attain the limit of my profession even if I have to spend the whole day on traffic hold-up.
Omoniyi Thomas, Lagos, Nigeria
It's nature and it will always be nature. We can try and control the rivers and seas but we will always be slapped back. Our current apathy towards fossil fuel usage will come to a head in the not too distant future as people start dying. Once again, the planet will give us a kick to bring us back in line. Whatever we do we will forever be at the mercy of the elements (as Katrina has just shown us) and when we unbalance things too drastically in the end, we will be wiped out. That's the way it works. No gods. No supernatural mojo. Just physics.
Matt, Sussex, UK
A distinction must be made between an individual experience and the wider globe. It seems to me that I can make choices that affect my world, but the choices I make are always limited by the outside world, over which I have practically no control. Global capitalism and environmental destruction are the most dominant manmade processes that affect my life, although my perception of these processes is clearly influenced by the media as well as cultural norms
Jim, Notts, England
I would be grateful if the BBC World Service would run part of my world. This is largely to the fact that it has power.
Timkere, Eket, Nigeria
My world is run by my knowledge about the world and by the events that others' superior knowledge shape. It is my belief that men are better at holding power but women are better at giving it.
Aghasi Harutyunyan, Yerevan, Armenia
I run my world because I have the power to decide what to do and what not to. I have the power to reach out and get what I want for I feel that is the right thing for me. The person who holds the power over me is God because if today He chooses not to give me life, I will not wake up and see the sun rise or set.
I would say the liberal do-gooders seem to be the power brokers in this country. They are elected by no-one, speak for no-one. However, they are representative of the many quite disastrous policies put into practice by past and previous governments, as it appears these people often have the ear of the latter. Hence the breakdown of our society both morally and physically. They should be very pleased with what they have achieved. Can I have my world back now, please?
A. Hood, Wakefield, England
Power is something each individual must find within themselves. I made the choices that have shaped my life and now live by the consequences of those same choices. Who runs my world? I do.
Donella, Clermont, Florida, USA
My world is run by my faith in God. But the world in which we happen to live is run by greed, lust for power, sexual passion, arrogance, ambition...and the media and show business which very skilfully and successfully exploit all these human weaknesses.
Levan, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia
Media and technology undoubtedly. In bomb blasts, elections, in bad time or good time - media has the power and all the potential to run one's world. Media alters our thinking, action and reaction. It creates business for many. Secondly, mankind is so dependent on the technology that a person could probably survive without a cup of tea of coffee but not without internet and mobile phone. This overdependence on technology will cripple our natural ability to think, to act and make us further paranoid. But you know, we chose it that way!
Apurva, Paris, France
The world is run by a combination of global bankers, and industries, who support certain political and social-economic systems which further their global domination. It's mainly behind the scenes, and hardly noticed in everyday life.
Michael Dolby, Roskilde, Denmark
I believe that the world power is in a state of flux. With globalisation gathering momentum everything seems up in the air and power has been left to which body claims it. We are now in an era of choice. Are you going to stick your neck out, fight for your beliefs, and take responsibility for your own actions? Yes, the UN's Millennium Development Goals will be achieved. It is what the world population wants. Although we are going through the culture-shock and conflict caused by this global unification, things are progressing. And, it is a heartening prospect. We will not have an American culture, nor a Western culture - it will truly be a 'world' culture for the benefit of the world.
Ian Wyatt, Southampton, UK
As it stands, the USA seems to rule most of the world but I think it should be that each country has a say in world issues that is proportional to the size of its population (not the size of its electorate as there are too many inconsistencies there). Then, and only then, can the world be truly democratic.
Lots of us think powerful people or at least powerful countries run the world but Hurricane Katrina has shown who's boss, blowing aside the curtain that hid America's shame, her poor, sick and elderly. A little more respect for nature would be wise.
Derek Amory, Richmond, Surrey
We live in two overlapping worlds: the world of Creation, which is the world where nature rules and tries to balance a zillion factors and species; and the world created by Man, which itself is now controlled by the ideology of multinational capitalism. The overlap comes as the second tries more and more to disregard or exploit the first as a fount of "resources," rather than as a fountain of Life. I for one find myself standing right on the cusp: it is imperative to find a way to neutralize the kind of power wielded over all life by the manmade world, in favour of a harmonious empowerment of a larger over-world. That's why I'm a teacher.
Kate, Granada Spain
Who runs your world should be who rules your world and fear rules this world. It is constantly hyped up over anything, we are all now so "fearful" we can hardly think straight. What better way to have people not question what is happening, they are too fearful to ask why.
G Gemmell, J'burg South Africa
I'll probably never know. But I still get to make real choices, like choosing local businesses, independent media, alternative medicine, working off the books, using alternative energy. We still have real choices that make a difference.
Owen Goldenberg, Long Island, New York
My ventilator runs my world. I am paralysed from the neck down and connected to a ventilator 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Without it I would die.
Michelle Taylor-Smith, Croydon
I rule my own world, as long as I live in the world, and not attempt to live in my country, where politics, corruption, crime, and racial inequality rule peoples' worlds.
Arno Kemp, South Africa (living abroad)
Easy. Momentum and inertia run my world and everyone else's. 6 billion people all acting out their own parts creates an inevitable, immovable direction that is hard to resist. People do what they do "because they've always done it that way" or "because that's how everyone else does it". Only rarely does an individual or group achieve a real shift in the progression of the world. Those are the truly "great" men and women who seem to be in such short supply in the modern world.
Nature rules. We forget we are animals and our inbuilt instinct is to breed and dominate and the strong get stronger and the weak weaker. Like all species one day we will self destruct and another species will rule because nature rules with the black and white daisy system
Mother nature. Who else? It's mankind's persistent attempts to control mother nature that will be the end of mankind.
Alan Hall, Evesham, Worcs.
It's corporation's and politician's greed for power and money that run our human world. Hopefully, there's Big Somebody above all this who looks after us.
N, Chicago, US
I guess BB run our world. Don't you think BB means Benazir Bhutto ex PM of Pakistan from BB I mean Bush + Blair. I am not sure they run it but they think they do and almighty is laughing up there.
Arif Khan, Abbottabad Pakistan
There are two superpowers controlling the planet - money and people. The latter can control the former through shareholder, consumer or ballot box democracy. It that fails - try revolution. Either way, the power lies with you.
Stephen Hinde, Hawkwell, Essex
The love of God and my faith runs my world and I get whatever I wants, what else? Men and women are equal but the difference is who wants the power and by his or her faith how will they get it.
Plato Owulezi, Nigeria/ Togo
At the end of the day it is not a person but an economic reality that rules my world. You could say it was my stomach. I work to eat (well, live comfortably) and eat to work - satisfying myself comes a distant third. The role of government in this mix, as far as I am concerned, is to stay out of my way - which is why I find Mr Blair and his wanton tax and spend policies so tiresome.
Mike, London, UK
I think this question "who runs your world" depends on who you ask? I would say as a white middle class professional, my answer may be different than someone living in poverty in Africa, their livelihood possibly dependent on our 'free market' global economy. We all have power to a lesser or larger extent, but sadly it's more heavily weighted in favour of those of us in the west.
Sarah, Oxford, UK
Fear and regulation. Life seems to be increasingly regulated and constrained. There's a balance - responsible freedom - but the legislatures of the west seem to have gone far beyond it. And interlinked with this is an increasing sense of fear, real and constructed. Which despicably is being harnessed by people like the US administration to extend their grip on power and their influence over all of our lives.
Who runs the world? The media. The media has such a huge power in this world, it can decide elections, it can choose what we think of people, it can bring down presidents and install dictators. Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Turner, even Robert Maxwell before he died, were some supremely powerful men.
Allan Berry, Syracuse, NY, America
Mother Nature runs the world, she does what she wants when she wants it. She adapts the environment to meet any challenges we throw her way. No corporation, NGO, government or political group can stop it.
I try to believe that I run my own world, but I realize that it is actually run by situations, circumstances and tendencies of the moment.
Khaled Awad, Santiago, Chile
Ignorance, which procreates fear, is the most lucrative commodity ever. So fear must rule the world. Without fear, the Church, the arms industry, the government, the police and that sort of thing appear to be less of a necessity. Money is also a product that dances with fear, take it away and suddenly you are fearful, unless of course you know how to exist in this world without it.
Douglas Remington, Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
Weather. What else can brighten up your day yet bring the world's most powerful countries to their knees?
Geoff, Montreal, Canada
Religion, politics, and money rule our world. Religion has always been a part of the world and the way people live. Politics as well, and money controls everyone. The rich get richer and the poor suffer and die. One day perhaps, we won't be ruled by these things, and we can all live in peace and harmony.
Anonymous, Dayton, Ohio, USA
Until "the world" is better represented in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, most of its power and wealth lies in the control of one set of hands: the United States of America
Joanna McMenamin, Kiev, Ukraine
Who rules your world? Try and change any significant local development that is important to the powers that be - like an incinerator that may give your kids cancer, or a new traffic-creating, small-business - destroying supermarket and you will find out very quickly. The bottom line is - the bottom line, and those who have most interest in it.
Paul Frost, Mansfield, UK
Physics runs the world. Our lives is only a tiny, tiny grit in comparison with the nature's infinite movement that is run by physical principles.
Nao, Kobe, Japan
Seeing as I spend all day behind a computer screen Microsoft seems to be running the world.
Joe Wilkinson, Whitehaven, UK
Your question reminds me of something I read by the late great Douglas Adams, in one of his hitchhikers guide books, concerning Zaphod Beeblebrox who was President of the galaxy. It was to the effect that, Zaphod was an excellent galactic president. Not because of any great deeds he did or leadership he displayed, but because he was very good at taking attention away from those who actually ran the galaxy. We should be careful. Those who appear to have power are not always those in charge.
Dave Thompson, Bournemouth, UK