Landmark intergenerational poll shows Bangladeshi young people substantially more likely than older people to be aware of climate change, eager for climate action

Despite mounting crises, young people around the world more likely than older generations to believe the world is becoming a better place – UNICEF-Gallup international survey released for World Children’s Day

18 November 2021
A girl talking
UNICEF/ UN0540777/Mawa
Young climate activists at the Global Climate Strike in September 2021. Among those who are aware of climate change, Bangladesh is one of the countries with the most young people eager for the government to take significant climate action.

NEW YORK/DHAKA, 18 November 2021 – Younger people in Bangladesh are substantially more likely than older people in the country to be aware of climate change, says a new international survey by UNICEF and Gallup released ahead of World Children’s Day.

Over 90 per cent of the Bangladeshi children and youth who were aware of the issue also agree on the need for their government to act boldly now.

The findings come from the poll The Changing Childhood Project, the first of its kind to ask multiple generations for their views on the world and what it is like to be a child today. The poll surveyed more than 21,000 people across two age cohorts (15-24 years old and 40 years old and up) in 21 countries, across all regions and income levels, including Bangladesh.

The survey shows that children and young people are nearly 50 per cent more likely than older people to believe that the world is becoming a better place with each generation, and that childhood has improved, with overwhelming majorities believing that healthcare, education, and physical safety are better for today's children than for their parents' generation. Yet, despite their optimism, young people are far from naïve, expressing restlessness for action on climate change, skepticism about information they consume on social media, and struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety. They are far more likely than older people to see themselves as global citizens, and more likely to embrace international cooperation to tackle threats like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no shortage of reasons for pessimism in the world today: Climate change, the pandemic, poverty and inequality, rising distrust, and growing nationalism. But here is a reason for optimism: Children and young people refuse to see the world through the bleak lens of adults,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Compared to older generations, the world’s young people remain hopeful, much more globally minded, and determined to make the world a better place. Today’s young people have concerns for the future but see themselves as part of the solution.”

“The voices of Bangladeshi young people on climate action are loud and clear. Young people in Bangladesh are aware of the consequences of climate change, and are more adamant than ever that more needs to be done,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. “Their views on the world might differ on some aspects from their peers’ in other countries, but their vision is the same: the need to act now for a better future.” 

In the countries surveyed,  Bangladesh has the second-lowest share of young people believing that it's very important for political leaders to listen to children.

“The views of young people matter. The survey makes clear that we need to carve out more space for them to speak up, to voice their concerns, to share their aspirations,” added Mr. Yett.

Key findings on Bangladeshi young people’s views on the world and how these compare with views of their peers from the other surveyed countries:

  • Among those who are aware of climate change, Bangladesh is one of the countries with the most young people (91 per cent) eager for government to take significant climate action along with Nigeria (94 per cent) and Zimbabwe (91 per cent). On average, nearly three-quarters of young people who are aware of climate change believe governments should take significant action to address it.  
  • Bangladesh has the second-lowest share of young people believing that it's very important for political leaders to listen to children.
  • Bangladesh is amongst the top four countries where young people believe children will be better off economically than their parents. On the other hand, young people in high-income countries have little faith in economic progress.
  • Eighty-one per cent of young people believe education has gotten better over the past generation, placing Bangladesh amongst the top five countries.
  • Nineteen per cent of Bangladeshi young people report often feeling worried and nervous, and 14 per cent say they often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things.
  • Young people in Bangladesh are less trusting than older people of national government, scientists, religious organizations and national media as sources of accurate information.
  • More than twice as many young people report using the internet daily than older people, ranking Bangladesh third for having a significant generational difference.
  • Almost 75 per cent young people in Bangladesh say that treating LGBTQ+ people equally is somewhat or very important. This is higher than the average across surveyed countries where 71 per cent of young people say it is somewhat or very important to treat LGBTQ+ people equally.

“We cannot know what is on the minds of young people if we do not ask them. UNICEF's survey reinforces the importance of hearing from the next generation and understanding their perspectives,” said Joe Daly, Senior Partner at Gallup. “The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow; it is crucial for older generations to do their part to ensure our children inherit a better world.”

“While this research paints a nuanced view of the generational divide, a clear picture emerges: Children and young people embody the spirit of the 21st century far more readily than their parents,” said Fore. “As UNICEF prepares to mark its 75th anniversary next month, and ahead of World Children’s Day, it is critical we listen to young people directly about their well-being and how their lives are changing.”

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Notes to editors:

Download the high-res version here

Download the report here

Alongside the release of the survey, UNICEF is launching a new interactive platform, http://changingchildhood.unicef.org/, containing the full set of data from the survey and the project report.

The Changing Childhood Project survey was conducted is the first survey to ask multiple generations of people across the world for their views on what it’s like to be a child today. For the project, UNICEF partnered with Gallup to survey more than 21,000 adults and children in 21 countries between February and June 2021.

The countries surveyed are: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA and Zimbabwe.

The coverage area is the entire country, including rural areas, and the sampling frame represents the entire civilian, non-institutionalized, population within each age cohort with access to a telephone.

In Bangladesh, over 1,000 telephone surveys were conducted; about half of the interviews were with 15-24 years old and half with 40 years old and up.

Media contacts

Faria Selim
UNICEF Bangladesh
Tel: +8809604107077
Helen Wylie
UNICEF New York
Tel: +19172442215

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/bangladesh

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About Gallup

Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 80 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviours of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.