List of global issues

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A global issue is a matter of public concern worldwide. This list of global issues presents problems or phenomena affecting people around the world, including but not limited to widespread social issues, economic issues, and environmental issues. Organizations that maintain or have published an official list of global issues include the United Nations, and the World Economic Forum.

Global catastrophic risks[edit]

Not all of these risks are independent, because the majority, if not all of them are a result of human activity.

United Nations list[edit]

The UN has listed issues that it deems to be the most pressing as of 2015:[1]

Top-level issue Issues Relevant UN directives/initiatives
Africa poverty, diseases, desertification, malnutrition, regional conflict Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur
Ageing ageing population, demographic transition Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, United Nations Principles for Older Persons, Proclamation on Ageing, International Year of Older Persons
Agriculture sustainable agriculture, food security Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
AIDS Prevention of HIV/AIDS, HIV and pregnancy, HIV/AIDS denialism Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Atomic energy nuclear weapons, nuclear waste International Atomic Energy Agency, Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
Children Child poverty, Child labour, Child abuse, Child mortality, Global education Education First, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme, Global Education First Initiative[2]
Decolonization exploitation United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization, United Nations Trust Territories, International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism
Demining land mines Mine Action Coordination Center, Ottawa Treaty
Democracy democratization Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UNDP, UNDEF, DPKO, DPA, OHCHR, UN Women
Development social transformation, economic development Social protection floor
Disarmament weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, conventional weapons, landmines and small arms United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
Environment pollution, deforestation, desertification, etc., see Global environment issues below United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, World Environment Day, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Framework Convention on Climate Change, Montreal Protocol, Convention to Combat Desertification, Convention on Biological Diversity
Family socialisation of children, cf. Ageing, Children UNFPA, UNICEF, International Year of the Family
Food missing food security and safety, food riots, world hunger FAO, World Food Programme
Governance lack of equity, participation, pluralism, transparency, accountability, rule of law
Health maternal health, extreme poverty Millennium Development Goals
Human rights human rights violations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Human settlements slums, urbanization, sanitation UN-HABITAT, Millennium Development Goal
Humanitarian assistance (cf. Refugees) humanitarian crisis, human migration, displacement World Food Programme, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, International Organization for Migration
International law war crimes, discrimination, state-corporate crime International Law Commission, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (1996), International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (1999), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
Oceans / Law of the Sea (cf. Water) marine pollution, ocean governance United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter
Peace and security United Nations peacekeeping, List of United Nations peacekeeping missions, Peacebuilding Commission
People with disabilities discrimination, lack of universal design Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Population overpopulation, world population UNFPA
Refugees (cf. Humanitarian Assistance) United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA),

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Terrorism Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism
Volunteerism United Nations Volunteers
Water (cf. Ocean trash) water scarcity, water conflict, water privatization, water pollution UN-Water, System of Environmental and Economic Accounting for Water, Water for Life Decade, International Recommendations on Water Statistics, United Nations Water Conference, Millennium Development Goals, International Conference on Water and the Environment (1992), Earth Summit (1992)
Women women's rights, gender equality Commission on the Status of Women, International Women's Year

As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) were superseded by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030), which are also known as The Global Goals. There are associated Targets and Indicators for each Global Goal.

World Economic Forum List[edit]

In keeping with their economy-centered view, the World Economic Forum formulated a list of 10 most pressing points in 2016: [3]

  1. Food security
  2. Inclusive growth
  3. Future of work/unemployment
  4. Climate change
  5. Financial crisis of 2007–2008
  6. Future of the internet/Fourth Industrial Revolution
  7. Gender equality
  8. Global trade and investment and regulatory frameworks
  9. Long-term investment/Investment strategy
  10. Future healthcare

Global environmental issues[edit]

No single issue can be analysed, treated, or isolated from the others.[4] For example, habitat loss and climate change adversely affect biodiversity. Deforestation and pollution are direct consequences of overpopulation and both, in turn, affect biodiversity. While overpopulation locally leads to rural flight, this is more than counterbalanced by accelerating urbanization and urban sprawl. Theories like the world-system theory and the Gaia hypothesis focus on the inter-dependency aspect of environmental and economic issues. Among the most evident environmental problems are:[5][6][7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Global Issues Overview". United Nations. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Global Education First Initiative - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  3. ^ Hutt, Rosamond (21 January 2016). "What are the 10 biggest global challenges?". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  4. ^[bare URL image file]
  5. ^ Rinkesh (27 June 2014). "15 Current Environmental Problems That Our World is Facing - Conserve Energy Future".
  6. ^ "The World's 6 Most Pressing Environmental Issues". 22 April 2012.
  7. ^ "NRDC - Our Work".
  8. ^ "Environmental Issues — Global Issues".


External links[edit]