MY World: listening to 1 million voices – blog by Claire Melamed

By Claire Melamed, head of the Growth, Poverty and Inequality Program at the Overseas Development Institute

MY World is a global survey about people’s priorities. Less than a year ago, ODI became one of the founding partners, after it was devised by me and Paul Ladd of UNDP. Out of a list of 16 options, people are asked to choose the six that are most important for themselves and their families. There’s also space for people to add a 17th option, if there’s something important that they think isn’t captured by the existing options. Working with our partners – theUNDPUN Millennium CampaignWorld Wide Web Foundation,Ipsos MORI, and over 700 implementing organisations – the survey has taken off worldwide since its launch in January.

This week saw the millionth vote uploaded. MY World is one of the largest global surveys ever carried out, and one of the most comprehensive – those million votes come from 194 countries. The majority (around 80%) come from low- or lower-middle-income countries, and about a third from people with little or no education, which is the proxy we use for low incomes in the survey methodology. Just under half of the votes come from people doing the survey with pen and paper in the traditional way, though we are also experimenting with different ways of collecting information by mobile phone, and people can vote on the website.

The survey is making a great impact here at the UN General Assembly, and in the debate on the post-2015 development goals. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard it mentioned on panels – including by the UN Secretary General, Helen Clark, the Administrator of UNDP, and Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever. And we got a little dose of glamour yesterday when Queen Rania of Jordan, accompanied by Gordon Brown in his capacity as UN envoy on education, came to visit the MY World exhibition that’s been put together for UNGA week.”

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