• Globally, people think access to digital tools and tech will improve in 2021, according to a new Ipsos-World Economic Forum survey.
  • A quarter say opportunities for training and education will also get better.
  • Deteriorating health and loss of income or employment are the most cited threats.
  • More think the pace of climate change will get worse this year than expect it will improve.
  • 62% of adults say “deteriorating health” is a real threat.

Technology and improving access to education are reasons to be optimistic in 2021, offsetting concerns about health, loss of livelihood and climate change, according to a new global Ipsos-World Economic Forum survey.

The availability of digital tools will get better, according to more than a third of respondents, while a quarter say opportunities for training and education will pick up.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic characterized 2020, and countries around the world are still responding to the virus as well as its social and economic implications. In many countries, death tolls are rising even as vaccines are rolled out.

Vaccines, Health and healthcare, Gavi

What is the World Economic Forum doing about access to vaccines?

In 2000, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance was launched at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, with an initial pledge of $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The aim of Gavi is to make vaccines more accessible and affordable for all - wherever people live in the world.

Along with saving an estimated 10 million lives worldwide in less than 20 years,through the vaccination of nearly 700 million children, - Gavi has most recently ensured a life-saving vaccine for Ebola.

At Davos 2016, we announced Gavi's partnership with Merck to make the life-saving Ebola vaccine a reality.

The Ebola vaccine is the result of years of energy and commitment from Merck; the generosity of Canada’s federal government; leadership by WHO; strong support to test the vaccine from both NGOs such as MSF and the countries affected by the West Africa outbreak; and the rapid response and dedication of the DRC Minister of Health. Without these efforts, it is unlikely this vaccine would be available for several years, if at all.

Read more about the Vaccine Alliance, and how you can contribute to the improvement of access to vaccines globally - in our Impact Story.

In a period where many have been ordered to stay at home, connecting virtually offers ways to stay in touch, work from home and keep education going online. In the UK alone, mandatory school closures helped the education technology sector expand by more than 70%, and global demand for collaboration software has exploded.

That was underscored by optimism in the survey about the availability of digital tools and technology, with 36% of respondents saying the situation will improve in 2021. Opportunities for training and education were also viewed more positively than negatively, the survey shows.

How tech is expected to change in 2021
Tech a bright spot for 2021.
Image: Ipsos/World Economic Forum

Even so, many concerns for 2021 also find their roots in the pandemic, and these were laid bare by the survey, with deteriorating mental or physical health cited as the most prevalent threat.

Sixty-two percent of adults surveyed said real health threats would probably be felt in the next 12 months. Loss of loss of income or employment was the next most cited risk, followed by climate change and extreme weather.

Level of personal concern for 7 possible developments
Health outlook is a top concern.
Image: Ipsos/World Economic Forum

The survey was conducted among more than 23,000 adults from 28 countries between 23 December 2020 and 8 January 2021.

Among the 28 countries surveyed, concerns about deteriorating health were more widely felt in Turkey, Chile and Spain. Countries where losing income or employment were most widely viewed as a real threat were Chile, Peru and Turkey, while fewer than two in five felt the threat in the Netherlands, Sweden and China.

The results come as The Davos Agenda brings together global leaders to help develop solutions for the post-COVID world. More than 1,200 leaders from 60 countries will convene virtually to discuss the overarching theme of "A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust".

Here's how you can follow The Davos Agenda.