The world has changed greatly in many ways over the last 20 years – some good and some bad.
To celebrate 20 years of the Global Education Project, we've put together some facts about how the world has changed over the last 20 years. The facts are organised under the headings of the learning emphases of the Global Perspectives Framework .
Interdependence and globalisation
- The world's population grew by about a quarter, from 5.66 billion to 7.24 billion.
- The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day has fallen from 47% to 22%, but there is great disparity; the wealthiest 20% receive around half of the world's income and the poorest 20% (predominantly women and minority groups) receive less than 10%.
- More than half the world's people now live in towns or cities, but 820 million live in slums.
- The internet, mobile phones, tablets and social media mean accessing information about events and issues around the world is almost instantaneous, and people can be actively involved in gathering data, crowdfunding and advocacy.
Identity and cultural diversity
- Of the world's living languages, 457 or 9.2% have fewer than 10 speakers and are very likely to die out soon.
- Worldwide, more than 8 in 10 people identify with a religious group, while 1 in 6 people have no religious affiliation.
Social justice and human rights
- The UN Millennium Development Goals have helped to halve extreme poverty, reduce hunger, improve the lives of women and children and increase access to water. However, there is still work to be done, and these gains have not been evenly distributed across the world.
- The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted, after 20 years of work, by the General Assembly in 2007 to ensure the continued survival of indigenous peoples and the protection of their rights, dignity and wellbeing.
- The International Criminal Court was established in 2003 to to help end impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Peace building and conflict resolution
- We are living in the most peaceful time in human history; however, the last seven years has seen a notable deterioration in levels of peace. The 2014 Global Peace Index shows that since 2008, 111 countries have become less peaceful, while only 51 have become more peaceful.
- For the first time in the post-World War II era, the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people exceeded 50 million people.
- Ozone depletion has been reversed with the phasing out of 98% of all ozone-depleting substances. The ozone layer is expected to return to its pre-1980 levels around 2050.
- Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased 42% since 1990. The last ten years have been the warmest on record since 1880.
- Global investment in renewable energy, including solar, wind and biofuels, was US$211 billion in 2010, more than five times the amount invested in 2004.
Pew Forum, The global religious landscape
Population Reference Bureau, 2013 world population data sheet (interactive graphics)
The Rosetta Project, New estimates on the rate of global language loss
United Nations Environment Year Book 2012, Key environmental indicators (PDF)
United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations Millennium Development Goals, 2013 annual report (PDF)