Working alongside Gallup, Lloyd's Register Foundation have produced The World Risk Poll, the first-ever global survey of risk. What keeps people up at night? What dangers have they experienced first hand? What do they fear online? and are government decisions and media coverage reflecting genuine risk?
In this edition of The Global Safety Podcast, we'll reveal some results of the huge survey that spoke to over 150,000 people in 142 countries, and has enabled the creation of three new indexes: The World Worry Index, The Experience of Harm Index and The Government Safety Performance Index.
To download the World Risk Poll in full and explore the key findings, please visit the World Risk Poll website.
This special edition of The Global Safety Podcast features insights from:
- Sarah Cumbers - Director of Evidence and Insight for Lloyd's Register Foundation
- Andrew Rzepa - Partner at Gallup
- Tracey Brown - Director of Sense About Science
- Manal Azzi - Senior Occupational Safety and Health Specialist at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
Listen now wherever you get your podcasts:
The Global Safety Podcast investigates the biggest safety issues facing the planet and looks at the latest science and innovations being developed to safeguard our future in an unpredictable world.
TOM HEAP [00:00:05] Welcome to a very special edition of the Global Safety Podcast brought to you by Lloyd's Register Foundation.
[00:00:13] Working alongside Gallup Lloyd's Register Foundation, who produced the World Risk Poll, the first ever global survey of risk. What keeps people awake at night?
[00:00:24] What dangers are they experience firsthand? What they fear online and our government decisions and media coverage reflecting genuine risk. In this edition of the Global Safety Podcast, we'll reveal some results of the huge survey that spoke to over 150,000 people in 142 countries and has enabled the creation of three new indexes. First up, the World Worry Index, showing which countries worry the most. And what about then there is the Experience of Harm Index charting where citizens encounter the greatest everyday risk. And we've also got the Government Safety Performance Index, which tells us how people in each country rated their government on their ability to keep critical infrastructure, food, water and power safe. So dirty water, dog food, violence and accidents at work and extreme weather all come high up the list. Disease does get a mention, too, not specifically covid-19 as the poll was conducted last year. But we will, of course, be asking how the pandemic has affected our understanding of risk. How then should we use this information to improve safety and banish unwarranted fear and as a bonus, will also reveal the country's least worried about risk? The three most chilled nations. I'm Tom Heap and welcome to the Global Safety Podcast, where I'm joined by an excellent but online panel. As we are told that the risks of sharing air are currently too great. We have Sarah Cumbers, who is director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyds Register Foundation. Andrew Zepa, a partner at the global analytics and advice company Gallop. Tracey Brown is director of Sense about Science. And Tracey, could you just give us a quick line for our listeners about what is a sense about science?
TRACEY BROWN [00:02:17] We are a charity that promotes the use of sound science and evidence in public life.
TOM HEAP [00:02:21] And finally, Manal Azzi senior occupational safety and health specialist at the International Labor Organization. Welcome to you all. First, a quick question, a snappy response would be great to get us all going, what is the biggest surprise or message that you believe the world risk poll has revealed to us?
[00:02:41] Let's start with Andrew.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:02:43] Perhaps maybe for me, in 2019, the majority of the world's population actually felt that the world was getting safer.
[00:02:50] We asked this question overall compared to five years ago. Do you feel more safe, less safe, about as safe as you did five years ago when we saw that 36 percent of the world's population said it is getting more safe? Another 36 percent said it was just about as safe, with only a quarter of the world saying it was getting less safe. So before the global pandemic, the world actually felt it on a positive trajectory.
TOM HEAP [00:03:12] And certainly surprising for those of us who sort of dwell in a liberal media habitat who haven't been that impressed with the way the world is turning off.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:03:20] Indeed. And so I suppose those specific data are actually hidden by the fact that you've got these huge populations in China and India where by a single country having essentially an overwhelming sense of things getting better, it can have a huge impact on these overall figures. So, for example, China is the country number two out of the hundred and forty two countries we interviewed where two thirds of the population believe that their lives were more safe than five years ago. And so when a billion people say that their lives are getting more safe, obviously that then has a huge impact on these overall figures.
TOM HEAP [00:03:58] Sure. And that begs various questions about how the survey was done. And we'll come to that in a moment. But I just want to come to Manal Azzi. What surprised you?
MANAL AZZI [00:04:07] Well, the good thing about the study is it validated a lot of other similar complementary studies that we have. So that wasn't a surprise.
[00:04:14] But some key points were surprising, for instance, that workers, for example, in their perception of workplace risk to their safety, did not have a lot of fear in expressing their perception of risk or anything that threatens their their life and safety at work. Of course, that varies with rural areas and other different sectors, but it showed that there is an increase in safety culture in the workplace. And that's a good thing that there is clearly employers have started to understand the relevance in investing in safe and healthy workplaces to avoid deaths and protect lives at work. So I think that's a good takeaway from my end.
TOM HEAP [00:04:59] And Tracy, what surprised you?
TRACEY BROWN [00:05:00] One of the things that I think I was quite pleasantly surprised by was more than two thirds of people around the world are have got concerns about the risks of climate change. One of the things that sounds about science has done, working in partnership with Lloyds Register Foundation has been to speak to people around the world who are in communities trying to communicate risk. That's journalists in Kisumu in Kenya, near Lake Victoria. It's people working in fishing in in Bangladesh. And the interesting thing for me was that it told a big picture story through the poll, but also that behind that sat many, many conversations that people were having about all the different ways in which climate change risks were changing in their lives. And we're needing the government and other organisations to be thinking about those and developing policies to address them. So I felt that it was a really big picture of a lot of rich experience and urgency that was coming through from people's lived experience. So I really was pleasantly surprised by that.
TOM HEAP [00:06:04] Sarah, anything particularly that pointed out to you? And then I've got another question about why you did this in the first place, but any surprises?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:06:10] First, we asked about a range of risks in the poll and we uncovered some startling findings and each of these areas. But for me, it was the threads that run across these findings that really were the most exciting, like the fact that generally people's individual circumstances are a better predictor of how they think about risk than their experience. So this is really important because it means that we can look at different demographic groups and we can use those differences between those groups to design specific interventions to help reduce risk or influence risk perceptions.
TOM HEAP [00:06:43] So just on that, do you mean that their concerns were less informed by their actual experience of danger and more informed by their position in society?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:06:54] So we're like in many cases, we find that that was the case. There were some places there were some cases where experience was a predictor of risk perception's, but in many cases, age or gender level of education, income level was a good predictor of perceptions of risk.
TOM HEAP [00:07:11] Why did you decide to do this in the first place?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:07:14] We commissioned the survey because before the poll we felt there was a gap in knowledge about the everyday risks that people face in their lives and in our understanding of how people think about these risks as well. So their experience and their perception. And so we want to use the results of the poll to influence action. To reduce risk and accidents and death, and particularly by identifying those gaps between people's experiences and perceptions, we can use that information to develop policies to empower individuals and communities to take action that's going to reduce harm to populations and also make people feel safer as well.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:07:50] OK, Andrew, in simple terms, is it possible to say how you did this work?
TOM HEAP [00:07:55] Obviously undertaking nationally representative surveys, 142 countries, 134 languages for a total of one hundred fifty four thousand one hundred ninety five interviews is no small feat. But fortunately, as an organisation, we have an infrastructure built specifically for essentially filling the world's biggest, most hairy, audacious global data gaps. And so we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with Lloyd's Register Foundation in order to use this infrastructure to essentially identify what are some of these biggest barriers, gaps with regard to experiences and perceptions of risk across the world. And so, in a nutshell, we undertook face to face interviews, approximately 108 of those 142 countries we surveyed. So that's essentially sending interviewing teams in each and every country to essentially understand the voice of the people on the ground. And so within the remaining high income countries, we use telephone conversations. So each one of the data points that you see represented here represents a live conversation between an interviewer and a person.
TOM HEAP [00:09:09] And so when you're looking at global figures, each individual person counted the same way that they. So kind of as you hinted at earlier, if you have trends that are common in India and China, they will look very dominant in the global picture because of so many people.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:09:24] Each and every individual country is representative in terms of the study. And then obviously, as we aggregate it, we need to ensure that each of these regional weights weighted by population up and up until you get to a global scale. But each individual country data set is representative of the national population. And so you can also then disaggregate that country data by key demographic factors and variables, whether gender, income, education, degree of urbanicity, etc.
TOM HEAP [00:09:53] I just want to help me out with a a sample question sort of concern I have. If the question was, for instance, are you worried about violence and harassment at work? I always feel that's a slightly vague question, because if I was asked that, it sort of means two things to me. It means am I concerned about it personally, but also do I care about it? And and those are actually two very different things. I'm not worried about it personally, luckily, but I do care about it. So I'm just wondering how precise was the questioner here? Because surely that's key.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:10:28] There's an ancillary report which goes alongside this key flagship report which talks about how we designed the whole of the World Risk Poll process. So we started off with a thorough literature review examining essentially the best in class research on the topic. We undertook stakeholder interviews with individuals across all sorts of different communities, whether academia, policy, the main international UN agencies, before developing an initial framework. That framework of long questions then provided us with an impetus to go out and do multi country cognitive testing. So we went out to Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the UK in order to actually understand not only people's responses to these specific questions before we upscaled the surveys, but also to understand what their thinking process with regard to each and every individual question. And so that cognitive testing process really enabled us to ensure that the questions we asked worked across this variety of countries, cultures, regions and contexts.
TRACEY BROWN [00:11:36] I think it's very useful also to see when you see the question in the sequence of questions that people are asked, the context that they they were asked in was very much about their own sense of their own safety and risk and so on. And so I think that does inform the way that people answered subsequent questions. But you are right, of course, that when you take something as huge as asking the same question to everybody around the world, and you're trying to incorporate into that really major topics from climate change to acts of violence, then you inevitably are going to get a very big picture, very generalised picture to delve down into. And I think the way to look at the results of this study from one perspective is as an invitation to more. It actually enables us to look at where should we concentrate certain types of questions around the world? What nuance and texture do we need? The fact that this is a 10 year project means that there's opportunities to do a deep dive.
TOM HEAP [00:12:36] And Sarah this is the first of three, is that right?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:12:39] The first of four times. And of course, one of the key things to remember about the 2019 poll is that it was conducted in 2019 when the world was normal in inverted commas. And so when we follow up in the field in 2021, one of the fascinating things is going to be to look at how those risk perceptions have changed and the extent to which they've been changed by COVID.
TOM HEAP [00:12:59] I want to come to Manale because a lot of the risks that we're seeing are perceived to be or are genuinely at work.
[00:13:05] So what did it tell us about safety at work?
MANAL AZZI [00:13:07] The world of occupational safety and health and risks. That work is very large and it varies between sectors. So what was good about the study is that it made a differentiation between manufacturing, fishing, agriculture, construction, trade and other different kinds of sectors where the hazards are different. They could be chemical, they could be biological, ergonomic, but also psychosocial, including violence and harassment, and can impact mental health and not just physical health.
[00:13:36] So that global scope that that the poll took is very interesting.
[00:13:42] And as it covered both the developing countries and developed countries, that also allowed a very point of view.
[00:13:50] Of course, the devil is in the details, and and I think we will work together to see how this fits into existing data and where we could actually probe further into some of the findings. But what's interesting is that you see 600 million people have gone through a serious injury due to work. And that's a large number. And it's even larger than what we would have estimated. And we know that there's a lot of under-reporting globally. And so getting the answers from the workers themselves and from the people to self-report, that's an added value also. So that we're not just asking generally employers or we're not just detecting those registered in ministries of labor, the accidents are incidents registered. Again, it's also, like you said, the questionnaire and then the definition of an injury and what is a serious injury or a minor injury? These are also detailed questions for us to to fully grasp and understand how people really perceived what they were being asked and how it varied across sectors and across private and public sectors sometimes. And this added demography correlation between the level of education. Gender was also really helpful to understand more this perception of risk in the world of work.
TOM HEAP [00:15:13] Yeah, because we're lucky enough in in areas of the of the rich and north to have quite sophisticated safety at work regimes and and dangers at work have decreased a lot, albeit they're still high in areas like agriculture even even in Europe. I guess we slightly underestimate how that area is still the most perilous part of a lot of people's lives, don't we?
MANAL AZZI [00:15:35] Right. So, I mean, the risks are still there. And we seem to forget for a lot of people doing the research, these are people working in offices and the real exposures are still in mining. We still have chemicals out there like, you know, the major industrial accident that just occurred in Beirut port with 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the middle of a city. So we tend to move forward and think of climate change and think of other new forms of work that are bringing with them new hazards. But the classical hazards are still there. And we haven't really, you know, reached a point where the world is equally dealing with these issues and has access to the resources needed.
TRACEY BROWN [00:16:19] I just want to come in on this point, because for me, one of the most striking findings from the World Risk Poll is about the violence and harassment that people are facing in the workplace. And you mentioned that the global north, that actually we find that many developed countries have a major issue with violence and harassment at work. And there's a big gender gap there.
TOM HEAP [00:16:37] Yeah, I'm just going to come in, though, whether I think it's 29 percent of Finnish women and 14 percent of Finnish men have experienced the threat of harassment of violence at work.
TRACEY BROWN [00:16:48] That's right. I mean, in Australia, it's 39 percent of women and 24 percent of men. So almost double the rate for women. So you have to question what's what's happening, you know, within those those cultures at work and what we can do to create safe spaces for people. And I think the reason I was I was shocked. I think we expected there to be quite high rates of injury from physical causes like, you know, chemical from fire, etc. But this is a cause that's human made. And so it really was more shocking to me to find that there was, you know, up to 50 percent of people in some countries experiencing violence and harassment in the workplace.
TOM HEAP [00:17:24] Still a lot of risk from the safety of food and water, which I know is something that's close to. Lloyd's Register Foundation, we can't really tell the trend on that yet, I guess, but what is that telling you, Sarah?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:17:37] Because we asked people about their experience of risk as well as their perception of risk. We have some very detailed data now on that gap. And we find that in most most regions of the world, people's perception of risk and safety of food is higher than the experience in that particular region. So people are quite aware of the risks, but in two of the top areas, experiencing harm from food, so in the Middle East and in North Africa, the gap runs the other way. And so people are not fully aware of the risk of food. And that, to me, means that there's an opportunity there to take action that empowers people living in those communities and suffering harm from food to do something about it.
TOM HEAP [00:18:18] Tracy, one of the things it does point out is that people are still alarmed by genetically modified food, particularly in the richer world. As I know, this is something that Sense About Science has been involved in in the past. What do you make of that?
TRACEY BROWN [00:18:30] Well, I didn't surprise me that it was in the rituals sense. That's where that that subject has become an issue. And we know that many countries from the Philippines to Uganda have been pioneers in the field of genetically modified food in order to address some of their local and regional issues. So that didn't particularly surprise me. I was actually slightly surprised that that the number wasn't higher just because most people in the developed world feel they have no skin in the game in terms of they have a regular food supply they are not concerned about. I mean, obviously, perhaps COVID might have changed that. Of course, people have actually experienced in many countries a drop in their food supply, but for the large part, be quite food secure. And therefore, I think perhaps don't see the value of certain types of interventions, agricultural interventions and that kind of thing.
[00:19:24] I do think the World Risk Poll gives us a picture of people's experience and their fears that forces us to look at the way we export risk, in particular around workplace risk about other areas, too, which is that, you know, many of us now don't live with the with the risk product of producing cheap T-shirts, for example. We've got that going on in Pakistan and the people there are forced to engage with those sorts of risks. So I think for me, although it looks like a set of figures and, you know, and a lot of them, I think it tells a big human story about the world and one that we do need to confront.
TOM HEAP [00:20:04] Something I just wanted to pick up, starting with you, Tracy, and maybe other members of the panel was about climate change because the data that it revealed about the fear of climate change, even the people behind this research couldn't quite seem to make up their mind if this was the right level of alarm or the wrong level of alarm. So what did you make about what the world said about the risk of climate change? Tracey, first.
TRACEY BROWN [00:20:26] Well, for me, if I thought it was a positive message, I think that the fact that so many people in so many countries raise it, I do think is a positive message.
[00:20:38] We might I think that we need 100 percent of the world to understand this risk in order to get it addressed. But I don't think that's the case. And so I feel that given the huge range of people that we've spoken to in this study, I think it's incredible to see that they're in such a short, relatively short time. I mean, you know, we haven't only been talking about climate change risk very actively in the last 15 to 20 years or so. In a relatively short time, that message has gone out around the world. Obviously, the thing that the poll does is raise the question of the world's biggest polluters being the people who are the least concerned in some cases. And so we have China and and India and the USA not exhibiting the levels of concern relative to the contribution they're making to global emissions.
TOM HEAP [00:21:25] But I think even America was at 49 percent of serious, wasn't it? Sarah, briefly. And then I'll come to Andrew.
SARAH CUMBERS [00:21:30] It was at 49 percent, a very serious Tom. But 21 percent of people in America think climate change is not a threat and that's one of the highest in the developing world. So you have to look at you have to look at each data point separately.
TOM HEAP [00:21:44] Andrew?
ANDREW RZEPA [00:21:44] Interestingly, we saw that in four of the top seven oil producing nations. So the US, Saudi, Iraq and the UAE, approximately one in five of the population, states that climate change posed no threat. So you see almost kind of that economic argument underpinning some of these perceptions of no risk.
TRACEY BROWN [00:22:03] It's interesting, while we're on the subject of climate, that is one of the areas in which also people's experience played a particular role. So if people experienced had experienced severe weather events, then they were more likely to think climate change is a risk.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:22:18] And picking some of those demographic factors as well, such as looking at the impact of both education and gender as well. So, for example, more than half of the people we interviewed who had 16 years or more of education, said they thought climate change is a very serious threat in the next 20 years. That's compared to only one in three with zero to eight years of education. So very, very clear gradient in terms of the impact of levels of education and the perceived risk of climate change.
TOM HEAP [00:22:47] I think Tracy just mentioned extreme weather. And it's quite marked, I understood this correctly. In the experience of harm index. Experiencing extreme weather, you know, is something that really drives experience of harm, if I understood that correctly. So I think it's a it's a very powerful factor in some countries.
SARAH CUMBERS [00:23:06] A very powerful factor. So Liberia topped the experience of harm index, and the reason was experience of severe weather, closely followed by Zambia and Mozambique, where severe weather was also a factor. But it was unsafe water in those countries as well.
TOM HEAP [00:23:20] Now, one of the things that that really well, I got to say, come up, even though we haven't got a comparison, is online fear, digital fear, what's happening in that sphere of our lives? And I was really very surprised that within that now the highest fear is about fake news. Andrew, you can tell me how this was kind of reached.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:23:42] Ultimately, at the moment, there's still a huge percentage of the world population who don't have access to the Internet and see the results from that study actually only represent those individuals who have been online within the past month.
TOM HEAP [00:23:55] Sorry to interrupt you there. Isn't that now quite a large proportion of the world's population who have been online in the last month? I thought those without any access was now I'd assume less than 20 percent. But I may be wrong.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:24:06] On a global basis. Once again, you have countries like India where there's still less than half of the population to have access to the Internet. And so or what may seem almost kind of like a a basic good a basic piece of infrastructure still isn't available to large portions of the world population. So I just wanted to reiterate that those data points specifically refer to individuals who have actually reported they've been online over the past month.
TRACEY BROWN [00:24:33] So we asked people about their perceptions of risk from fraud, from bullying online and also from false information.
[00:24:40] And the thing that I think is most striking about these findings is that although 60 percent of people do think there's an issue with false information online, and I think that represents how much fake news has been in the news recently and how an awareness on that issue, 40 percent of people don't, which means that there's a huge proportion of people who are using the Internet who are not empowered with the skills to question the validity of the information they find online. And that's a massive risk.
TOM HEAP [00:25:08] Yeah, but I think the fact that 60 percent do shows how dominant it is is an issue among those who are Internet savvy. And I noticed it was particularly dominant, I think it was in countries where there was big political, religious or ethnic polarisation, big, broad, I should say, economic inequality, countries like Malawi, Rwanda and Bolivia.
TOM HEAP [00:25:36] And so these are countries I mean, it isn't the United States. It is among some other countries who, you know, really care about it.
SARAH CUMBERS [00:25:45] Yes. Really, really interesting set of findings there. And I think a clear opportunity for some action.
TOM HEAP [00:25:50] Does this survey tell us whether people's perception of risk is well founded? Does it help us to know whether people are worried about the right things, if you like, Sarah?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:26:05] So we can look at the the top of the mind risk question here. Tom, we asked at the very start of the survey what single biggest risk to safety people felt was in their daily lives. And the biggest response at around just over 20 percent, people said experience of harm from road traffic accidents, that that was the biggest risk to safety. And we know that that is a major issue worldwide. But we also know that it's a bigger issue in developing countries and low income countries, that it is in the developed world because of seatbelt regulation. For example, we see a correlation in the poll findings between people's responses as to whether they wear a seatbelt and regulation. So it's clear that there are there are factors that can impact on this.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:26:53] Just following the thread from that statement, this particular question was perhaps maybe the most difficult and ambitious question we've ever implemented. So essentially we ask the question in your own words, what is the greatest source of risk to your safety in your daily life? And then in 137 different languages, we coded the direct response and then essentially worked out from what these individuals were telling us from their individual stories, essentially what these biggest risks in their daily lives were. And so we heard an entire array of individual stories. Feral dogs in the in the suburbs of Ulan Bator, or one Ghanian respondents who said being knocked down by a vehicle while I'm on the road selling this hugely rich texture of individuals' experiences of risk and danger in their daily lives. And so then we took all of those responses and coded, as Sarah rightly mentioned, identified that the single biggest risk globally is road safety. And there's a juxtaposition there by the fact that.
TOM HEAP [00:27:59] I'm so sorry to interrupt you there, aren't you?
[00:28:01] What do you mean the single do you actually mean the single biggest risk or do you mean the single biggest perceived risk?
ANDREW RZEPA [00:28:06] It's interesting you say that because there's very, very strong dotted line between the perceived risk and the actual risk. But interestingly, it's almost flipped. So you've got a lot of low low income countries. Only eight percent of respondents say road safety hazards are the single biggest risk in their daily lives. Yet on a per capita basis, globally, you see the highest levels of road fatalities. But in high income countries, we had almost a quarter of respondents say 23 percent, saying road traffic incidents were the biggest issue yet. You have the very, very lowest levels of road traffic injuries there. So it's Finland for me, perhaps maybe the best example. Where is the second country? Who was most likely to report that road traffic safety incidents were an issue? So 54 percent of respondents, yes, they only have four out of 100,000 road deaths per year. And in the year that we actually undertook the survey in 2019, they saw road traffic fatalities drop by 14 percent. And so once again, we're seeing an ecosystem of attitudes which are actually leading to government action, which enables them to address what people perceive are the biggest risks.
TOM HEAP [00:29:17] I guess it could be that the Finns have little else to worry about.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:29:21] There's certainly a degree of that. So you look at Madagascar, where only three percent of respondents said that road traffic accidents were a huge issue. Yet they have almost 30 per 100,000 capita deaths per year due to road traffic accidents. But then when you look at their top of mind issues, it's things like violence in their daily lives. And so ultimately, you see this very, very rich tapestry of different individual risks in these low income countries, just which mean that they score less well on these single item variables.
TOM HEAP [00:29:54] Tracy, I wanted to ask you about this, because I know the difference between perceived risk and actual risk is something that Sense About Science, you know, cares about quite a lot. Well, what did you glean from it?
TRACEY BROWN [00:30:02] Well, it's really important that we don't make an assumption that when people's perceived risk is different from from what we measure is the actual risk that they face, that we just assume that there's an information problem there and that all they need to be we need to to tell that much more about that risk, because it could be that sometimes what we're people are lacking is access to information or understanding of what to do about risks. I think people worry more often, are more aware of a risk when they feel that there's a choice that to face it.
[00:30:33] Now, I think the other thing that's quite important about this is that risk context that's been talked about, which is this survey tells us quite a lot about the priorities. And you don't necessarily get the priorities. Every time you take an issue and you look around the world and you see, you know, what the perception of risk is. You don't necessarily get a sense of the priorities in people's daily lives and what they worry about most. Yes, I think this does give us some sense of that.
[00:30:57] But also, I do feel that that sometimes the assumption that what people are lacking is just a better education or about risk or better information about it means that we're missing on understanding what what we mean by the risk in people's lives. In Fukushima, for example, loads of information flooded in there after the power plant accident following the tsunami just over 10 years ago, there was loads of information to the local population.
[00:31:28] And yet when people researchers moved in there, what they found was the local population was still saying, but can we fish? You know, and it doesn't necessarily mean that because you just have flooding information out to people and saying this is the risk level that you face, that I just feel that sometimes there's a sort of feeling of if that's all they need is more data and then they'll kind of understand what they risk context is. It's the other way around. We need to listen much more to what people's risk context is, what their priorities are, and think about why it's different sometimes from the global picture that we have in the statistics.
TOM HEAP [00:32:05] But then we then end up potentially with policy responding to to prejudice rather than actual risk.
TRACEY BROWN [00:32:11] But that is what happens. That is policy.
TOM HEAP [00:32:13] But not good policy, necessarily.
TRACEY BROWN [00:32:17] No, not necessarily, because policy is about people's priorities. At the end of the day, if you don't feel safe and I'm not saying it is, it means that policy is all about therapy, you know, and and pulling the wool over people's eyes. But, you know, if. If you live in a community in which elderly people are locking themselves indoors, perceiving the risk of crime, that is actually a problem for you to address in policy terms. Perception of risk is also telling us something about whether they think it's down to them, whether it's down to government to fix it, whether their employer bears responsibility. So there's a lot behind those those perceptions.
TOM HEAP [00:32:52] Sarah and Andrew, you both had your hands up briefly there. Let me come to you first.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:32:56] Ultimately, this is a huge practice in bottom-up policymaking.
[00:33:02] So by actually putting a microphone to the world's population and understanding essentially what they believe and perceive and experience is the biggest risks in their lives, that ultimately we're able to better dictate and create those policies to react to where individuals are in terms of their own life journey.
TOM HEAP [00:33:23] Sarah, do you want to come in?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:33:25] I want to make one point just about people's risk perceptions. We know that fear is a big factor here. And one of the really interesting findings from the poll was that people tended to rate the likelihood of being in an airplane accident on the same level as the chances of drowning, even though drowning kills an estimated 32,000 people per year, compared to two hundred and fifty people killed in airplane accidents. So it's just another factor that we need to take into account in understanding what's driving people's perceptions and then their behaviour.
TOM HEAP [00:33:53] Manal, come in on this and I want to ask you something else.
MANAL AZZI [00:33:57] I mean, I just wanted to say we're using the word risk. I mean, interchangeably, but obviously, I mean, there's more to it than the risk. So we you have hazards. You have the percentage of exposure to certain hazards, and then you have issues that are normalised in society. For instance, driving around like motorcycles without helmets could be normalised in a society yet, whereas sitting in different manufacturing, construction companies where we see the hazard, that's clearly and we've seen outcomes of fatal fatalities and people falling off roofs so they can you know, they perceive the risk differently. When you see the negative outcome quickly, similar to climate change, where you don't see who's controlling emissions and who's controlling decreasing the emissions. And so the individual, if asked, they will feel it's not something that they can control. So it's not an immediate risk and the negative outcome is not immediate. And so there's that there are so many different factors in an individual seeing a risk to themselves in the reality and science and facts of how much they are exposed to various hazards that can lead to risk and then in the intensity and severity of this risk leading to a negative outcome, and when. Is it immediate? Is it short term? Is it long term?
[00:35:13] So all of these factors play a big role in making up our attitudes and sometimes normalising negative issues.
[00:35:21] So it's it's accepted that, you know, this is a risky job and I need to live. And other issues, including working conditions and livelihoods, push us to do a dangerous job knowing that there is a huge risk involved. But we're going to do it because at the end of the day, that's what pays, you know, putting bread on the table.
TOM HEAP [00:35:38] So Manal, how could the International Labor Organization or indeed governments that you kind of lobby, how could they use the information here? How should they be doing?
MANAL AZZI [00:35:46] I would see this as an important global aerial view of what's going on. And hearing from the voice of the people is important because different surveys are so focused on different areas. And this gives us a more global view. And now it would be the moment to dig into some of the issues we found and understand any confounding factors or any contextual issues that can inform better government. So we just need to include and involve the right stakeholders. And this clearly gives them the voice of the people. So they could, you know, because you're more educated when you're working in policy. And so you think you know what people want, what people I know this tells them know this is what people are actually saying. And this is quite a representative sample of opinions. And you need to take that into consideration as you're looking at all the other factors that help you make policy. So for me, this is one big part. And the the idea that it's the first of its kind is very interesting. It's the first time this is done on such a global scale. And I think there's a lot to take from it. And I haven't myself, you know, dived in depth in a lot of the data yet. And it's interesting to hear colleagues on this call explain how they came about. All the different data collection methods will help, you know, get us and more qualitative data will add to this quantitative. And there are so many ways to gather data and explain it's more complementary with other different tools and methods as we move forward.
TOM HEAP [00:37:17] I just want to very briefly touch on the media, because I think probably complaining about the media scaremongering is a bit like complaining about the weather. You know, that's just the way it is. But Andrew how well, do you think the media generally portray genuine risk?
ANDREW RZEPA [00:37:34] In an individual's life, as we see with this study, risk means a huge amount of different things to different people. So, for example, one of the questions we asked was, does risk equal opportunity or is the equal danger? And for a large percentage of the world's population, far more than you'd expect, they actually point to opportunity. And so to say that's we're talking about risk in the wrong way, I suppose, is to miss the very concept of what risk is. It's this hugely individual personal experience of the way an individual sees the world around them.
TOM HEAP [00:38:10] And that brings us, I think, very neatly on to what we're experiencing with coronavirus, because I do want to talk about whether you think this has had an impact on on our understanding of risk. But one of the things that what you've said, Andrew, just there speaks very directly to me is the one thing that I've noticed about coronavirus is people respond to it very differently. And I think it's almost because of what you just said in terms of how they perceive risk and opportunity in their lives. And I think it's really put that into quite stark relief or to just address that before we come on to some of the general stuff.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:38:46] Absolutely. And so you look through all of the data we've collected across the entirety of the world, and you see those very personal individual factors actually often being one of the largest determinants or drivers of attitudes towards risk, whether individuals' levels of education, their income, their degree of urbanicity. And so it's those personal factors of where someone sits within society, which can actually be far more powerful in understanding how an individual sees the world around them, rather than just looking at a specific country of origin or level of economic development.
TOM HEAP [00:39:22] Sarah, what do you think the impact of coronavirus might be on the world's attitude to risk?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:39:29] Well, the final chapter of the World Risk Poll report looks at a forecast. It looks that it's a forecast of when we get the results of the 2021 poll, we're analysing them in 2022 to what do we think's going to happen. And there's some really quite complex methodology there that the Gallup team have put together and used to construct that. But at its heart, obviously, it places coronavirus central to to the forecasts on risk because it will have an impact on particular measures around how economically stable the world is. And therefore, you know, individual countries, you know, how safe there's a correlation between people's income and how safe they feel. And so we know that's going to impact on risk perception. That analysis was undertaken a number of months ago now. So when we were, I would say probably in the middle of the first wave of coronavirus and possibly the forecasting would be different if we were doing it now. But back then, the outcome of that forecast indicates that actually by 2021, we think that the perceptions will stabilise and people will feel about the safe when it when we get to 2021 than they did in 2019. Now, obviously, the pandemic has taken a course that you couldn't have predicted, you know, four or five months ago. But it's going to be very, very valuable, I think, to test that methodology when we get to 2022. And we can use that then to build on the models and make better predictions of risk and safety in the future.
ANDREW RZEPA [00:41:01] So there's also a huge component there around human adaptation. So Gallup does a huge amount of research on wellbeing, essentially how individuals lead a good life. So our data underpin the UN World Happiness Report. And so we see that individuals' ability to adapt to their circumstances can actually be quite remarkable. And so I think in a number of cases, we're actually starting to see that with the pandemic individuals starting to normalise to this new normal for want of a better expression. And so that's part of the logic underpinning some of these modelling that.
TOM HEAP [00:41:36] Manal, did you want to come in?
MANAL AZZI [00:41:38] This just reminded us of how much you need flour and sugar and access to essential services and the people behind that work. And then how much you need those people that keep you alive and healthy and give you that quality of life and then investment in research and science where it needs to be. Because I think we had just fallen off track on so many levels. And this is you know, this needs to be factored in the way we plan things differently. I mean, the pandemic wasn't a complete surprise for people working in the field. And the risk was there is just it depends what the politicians and governments want to listen to at any point in time.
TOM HEAP [00:42:15] One thing that really surprised me with the pandemic was I understood that for the rich countries, it was a big risk in terms of their public health. For countries of the south, it struck me that proportionally it wasn't as big a risk if you've got a society where premature death is more common, other forms of disease and illness are more common and people don't live to such a great age. I thought that a lot of countries in the South would respond differently with well put brutally a bit more of a shrug. But they didn't. They a lot of them, you know, attempted lockdowns even though they couldn't really afford it and it was going to really cripple them. I was quite surprised by that.
SARAH CUMBERS [00:43:00] Yeah, I think you're right. I think it is I think it's very interesting to to see the different responses that have been or, you know, similarity of responses that have been taken in spite of that. And again, to dig into the reasons for that.
MANAL AZZI [00:43:12] Yeah, I think it's also due to the international scrutiny that everyone faced one thing at the one point in time and governments were comparing each other regardless of developing or developed and, you know, winners could just rise from anywhere. And it was sort of that opportunity for governments to rise up to this new global challenge and mark their selves on the world map.
TOM HEAP [00:43:38] Andrew, do you think we might see a more sophisticated understanding of risk emerge from the pandemic? Because scientists, epidemiologists are talking about the risk all the time on our media at the moment and politicians, to be fair to them, having a very difficult time balancing those risks. Do you think we might end up with a better understanding of risk?
ANDREW RZEPA [00:44:00] I hope so. So ultimately, you look at the reaction for the global policymaking community following the financial crisis and the policy interventions that were created to try and create a more stable financial system. Following that, hopefully we'll see similar effects in terms of public health for following the current pandemic. Ultimately, it's something which has been hugely under-resourced. Not enough global attention has actually been put forward to this. And so hopefully this is the catalyst we need to actually provide additional support for organisations like the World Health Organisation who are essentially at the vanguard of addressing things such as pandemics.
SARAH CUMBERS [00:44:40] The poll wasn't undertaken by the foundation to generate data. It was undertaken to generate action. And so we're looking to organisations like the ILO and it's great to have Manal on the call because it emphasises the importance of the world response as a data set that can influence action around the globe. And we're working with a number of other high impact partners to make that change happen.
TOM HEAP [00:45:04] It's probably a cheeky question, but it strikes me as quite an expensive bit of work to carry out this.
SARAH CUMBERS [00:45:09] Well, it depends how you measure value, Tom. Of course, interviewing 150000 people across the world isn't cheap. But if you look at the return on that investment, if we're able to influence people's lives across all of the risks that we asked about in the poll, it's actually going to be quite cheap in terms of that return.
TOM HEAP [00:45:27] In the end, Sarah, do you hope that this will make people's lives safer is at the core aim?
SARAH CUMBERS [00:45:33] Yes, absolutely. But not just not just safer in terms of reduction in risk, but also helping people to feel safer as well.
TOM HEAP [00:45:41] Now, I promised to reveal the three countries who are least worried, the most chilled nations, if you like, and they have a very satisfying spread around the world.
[00:45:50] They are Sweden, Singapore and Uzbekistan. I wonder why. Well, as we mentioned earlier, this is the first of three more polls to come in the next six years, which will look at how people perceive risk, what the genuine threats in their lives are and how those are changing.
[00:46:13] So, thank you all for joining me on today's Global Safety podcast to Dr. Sarah Cumbers from Lloyd's Register Foundation, Andrew Rzepa from Gallup, Tracy Brown from Sense about Science and Manal Azzi from the International Labor Organization. Next time we'll be delving into the ways in which engineering solutions could be applied to stop future global pandemics such as the current COVID-19 crisis.