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Podcast interview

The Safety Pioneers Episode 1: The World Risk Poll

In this first instalment of innovator interviews, Gallup's Andrew Rzepa talks about the groundbreaking ‘World Risk Poll’ commissioned by Lloyd's Register Foundation.

Read more about the Lloyd's Register Foundation World Risk Poll, powered by Gallup.

Episode transcript

Narrator: 

In this episode we hear from someone who is involved in the first-ever global study of the public understanding of risk.

Andrew Rzepa:

Imagine if across the entirety of the world you could understand what people felt and experienced was the single biggest risk in their lives, in the lives of their communities and the people that they care most about.

Narrator:

Whether it’s a global issue such as the Coronavirus pandemic or a localised problem that only affects a tiny community in a remote part of the world, improving our knowledge of the public understanding of risk is more important than ever.  

Andrew Rzepa:

How can we map out the world’s largest risk hotspots, in order to design and target and create interventions to create a safer world?

Narrator:

Andrew Rzepa is a partner at Gallup, the global analytics and advice firm. Gallup have been commissioned Lloyd’s Register Foundation to carry out the groundbreaking World Risk Poll. We caught up with Andrew at a networking event to find out more.

Andrew Rzepa:

So at Gallup I lead our government division and our partnerships with governments, NGO’s (ie non-governmental organisations), charities and foundations – all with the purpose of trying to ensure that policy makers have got the right data in hand to create robust policy. And so our partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the World Risk Poll, is doing exactly that by providing an insight into the largest risks for people across a hundred and forty plus countries.

One of the key elements of the World Risk Poll is that we’re creating a global public good data set. And so ultimately we’re looking to try and create conversations - so bringing in policy makers, bringing in other organisations that care about some of the world’s biggest issues and to focus their attention on essentially making the world a safer place.

Narrator:

The poll involves carrying out interviews with people about how they perceive risk as well as the actual risks they face in their everyday lives. The sample of people interviewed is representative of more than ninety five per cent of the world’s population.

Andrew Rzepa:

The ambition of the World Risk Poll is unrivalled – ultimately never before has anyone asked the world what the single biggest risk they face in their lives is. We’re asking this as an open ended question, allowing individuals to respond however they want. You think of that across a hundred and forty countries, in countries where people don’t normally have the opportunity to express their views to express their opinions - and for them to actually have that opinion put forward in a robust way and provide it to the world as a global public good is hugely ambitious, and we’re delighted that we have the opportunity to partner with Lloyd’s Register Foundation in realising that ambition.

Narrator: 

The perception of risk can affect how resources are allocated and what sort of safety measures and policies are implemented, it can also influence how individuals behave and react to situations.  You only have to look at the panic buying that took place at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for a timely reminder of why studying public understanding of risk is so important.

Andrew Rzepa:

So ultimately the success of this project isn’t only producing great data, what really is going to differentiate us is our ability to create change in the world through this data.

Narrator:

The World Risk Poll is also providing insight into whether different countries have common perceptions of risk. 

Andrew Rzepa:

During this qualitative research, these cognitive interviews, we found a number of key factors so first of all that ‘yes’, it is possible to discuss risk on a comparable basis that the words and the concepts actually resonated across a hundred and forty plus countries across the world. Secondly, that also people associated risk more on a more negative basis than a positive. So people weren’t necessarily thinking about the opportunities coming from risk when we discussed it. They were more thinking about the negative impact it could have on their lives.

Narrator:

Data that is emerging from the World Risk Poll will give new insights - for example providing information about injuries at work in countries where formal records are not available. 

Andrew Rzepa:

We’ve identified a number of key findings within the data we’ve already received from the field. So within high income countries we’re seeing financial risk – essentially being fairly high and fairly important on peoples’ minds. A global phenomenon, which was a little bit unexpected, is the number of people reporting about the importance of mental health.

Narrator:

The World Risk Poll will also feed into Gallup’s wider studies. Take the issue of food insecurity for instance – the risks surrounding people who are unable to consistently access or afford food.

Andrew Rzepa:

Hopefully there’ll be parallels between this work and the work that we’re undertaking with the United Nations food and agricultural organisation on the global measurement of food insecurity. With that data you can disaggregate it, so you can cut the data by gender. One of the key findings we found was that where there’s a difference across the world, women are more food insecure than men. So the United Nations World Food Programme have actually co-developed an additional project using this same measurement framework to understand how women’s empowerment can be potentially used as a mechanism for improving food insecurity across the world. Ultimately our ambition is that countries start to take this understanding of risk far more importantly and hopefully we’ll see parallels with that work.

Narrator:

The World Risk Poll is also highlighting distinctive behaviour in some parts of the world. This can be particularly useful when an unusual pattern flags up an issue that is having a knock-on effect on society and the economy in that area. Here’s an interesting cultural example which Andrew referred to during a presentation he gave about the poll.  

Andrew Rzepa:

Looking at this global data provides a really interesting snapshot of the way the world is. But there’s a few countries where the data doesn’t necessarily feel as it should do. One of these countries was Nepal. So we did additional follow-on research in Nepal to try and understand what’s happening there in that data point. And so after a number of focus groups, it came out from these groups that individuals were afraid of ghosts. These individuals couldn’t properly integrate themselves in society at night because of a fear of ghosts. But ultimately these were very real states of mind that had a very real world impact on both their day-to-day lives and also their well-being.

Narrator:

A belief in ghosts is a deep-rooted traditional belief among people in Nepal. Here’s another behaviour pattern from a different part of the world – this time the perception of risk is more tangible.

Andrew Rzepa:

One of my colleagues was attending some of our interviews in a suburb just outside Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, and this lady was asked ‘what’s the single biggest risk in your life today’ she said ‘Mongolian feral dogs’ – (this is) a fairly unique example of a very specific Mongolian issue, but apparently in this suburb in Mongolia there are packs of feral dogs which play a huge impact, especially on the older generations. This lady had apparently been attacked by a feral dog in her suburb and did not feel safe leaving the house. And so this data set from over a hundred and fifty thousand respondents from over a hundred and forty countries is not only going to allow us to understand some of these broad macro pictures, some of these emerging trends but also gets on a fairly granular level within each one of those a hundred and forty countries to understand some of those unique challenges.

Narrator:

Whether a risk is real or imagined makes little difference if it leads to people being reluctant to leave their home. It can have all sorts of knock-on effects from social isolation to an inability to do particular types of work or to go out and buy food.    

So perceptions of, and attitudes towards, risk have an impact on all of us socially and economically. The findings of the World Risk Poll will therefore benefit many areas of our lives from safety policy and food security to physical and mental healthcare. It’s significant therefore that these findings will also be available for widespread use. 

Andrew Rzepa:

Due to the generosity of Lloyd's Register Foundation, that data, all of that respondent level data is going to be a public good, available for anybody who wants to use it. That data is going to be a huge resource.

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