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TOPIC 7: Global challenges

About Topic 7

The global challenges topic includes economic issues, their impact on people and society, changes in demographics, movements of populations between countries and inside countries, long term trends in population and industry, severe global problems such as famine, drought and malnutrition, and also the possible causes of all these issues, their effects and possible solutions to them.

There are often connections between this topic and the other topics, especially

4 Nature, the environment and energy, 8 Cities and infrastructure, 9 The countryside and agriculture, and 10 Government and the authorities. This means that you may sometimes need to combine vocabulary from two (or possibly three) topics to answer a Task. For example, a Task may ask about the effect of economic problems on the countryside, and you would then use vocabulary from Topics 7 and 9.

Topic 7 example Task

‘Unemployment remains the biggest challenge to school-leavers in most countries’ How far do you agree with this assessment? What other challenges face young people today?

(school-leavers = young people who leave school without going on to further studies.)


Band 9 model essay

Youth unemployment is certainly a worrying challenge for most countries, especially at a time of economic instability and social unrest. However, to say that this is the largest issue is to overlook a range of equally pressing matters, as we will discuss now.

It must be admitted that joblessness can undermine a young person’s economic prospects and consequent social mobility. Nevertheless, this issue can be ameliorated by coordinated action between the state and the private sector, as we have seen, for instance, in Canada recently. When this is realized, we can see that other concerns are at least as serious. Foremost among these is perhaps the issue of age demographics, whereby young people bear the burden for an increasingly elderly population with high longevity. This means that young people will pay higher taxes and work longer hours, possibly forcing them tomigrate to countries where this pressure is lower. The effect of this is the ‘brain drain’situation which can be seen in southern Europe, where young, ambitious people prefer to leave their countries altogether, exacerbating the problem for those remaining.

Furthermore, we must remember that a substantial proportion of young people globally face existential threats such as famine, drought or outbreaks of disease. These problems are often caused by (or are compounded by) civil war, political instability or thecorruption of people in power locally. Such risks are a danger to their safety in addition to their livelihood, and so would appear to be far more serious than unemployment.

To conclude, it seems logical to accept that joblessness is a major challenge for young people. However, persistent trends in demographics among developed countries and the presence of physical dangers in developing countries should be regarded as at least as severe.

(290 words)



A challenge (thách thức) = a problem or difficulty to be faced

E.g.      The West faces many challenges due to its ageing population.


Economic or political instability (kinh tế hoặc chính trị không ổn định) = a rapid, unmanaged change in a country’s economy or political situation

E.g.      Economic instability causes many people to move abroad to seek reliable work.


Social unrest (bất ổn xã hội) = riots, protests or fighting by the public against each other or the government

E.g.      Social unrest is spreading from the countryside to the cities, and the police are not responding.



An issue (đề tài) = a topic, subject or question that must be considered

E.g.      The issue of petrol price inflation is not often discussed in the media.


Pressing matters (những vấn đề cấp bách) = urgent, important issues

E.g.      I could not go to the college reunion because of more pressing matters at home with my family.


Joblessness (tình trạng thất nghiệp) = a synonym for ‘unemployment’

E.g.      Joblessness among older people is actually higher than among recent graduates.


Economic prospects (viễn cảnh kinh tế) = the future possibilities for a national economy

E.g.      The economic prospects for very small countries are quite positive these days.


Social mobility (sự biến đổi của xã hội) = the ability of people to progress in terms of salary, lifestyle and social status

E.g.      The greatest aid to social mobility is good education and training.


The private sector (tư nhân) = private businesses, as opposed to ‘the public sector’ meaning state- owned or controlled services

E.g.      I definitely want to work in the private sector after I graduate. It is a more stimulating environment than the public sector.


Demographics (thống kê dân số) = the changes in society in terms of age, income, numbers, origins and location in a country

E.g.      Demographic changes in Scandinavia have been dramatic, with substantial immigration and an ageing indigenous population.


Longevity (sống thọ) = the tendency to have a long life expectancy

E.g.      Japanese people have perhaps the highest longevity in the world.


To migrate (di cư) = to move permanently between countries

E.g.      Migration within the Eurozone is a highly controversial issue at present.


Brain drain’ (chảy máu chất xám) = the tendency for intelligent or successful workers to migrate out of a country (usually expressed in quotes ‘’)

E.g.      Southern Europe is experiencing a high ‘brain drain’ these days, because of the lack of economic prospects.


Existential threats (mối đe dọa đang tồn tại) = a threat to existence or life

E.g.      The economy of my country faces an existential threat from collapsing oil revenues.


An outbreak (sự bùng nổ) = the start of a widespread problem such as disease or conflict

E.g.      The outbreak of Ebola is a great concern for doctors globally.


Civil war (nội chiến) = war between people inside a country

E.g.      It will take many years for our nation to recover from the civil war of the 1990s.


Livelihood (kế sinh nhai) = the way a person makes a living

E.g.      Many villagers sell handicrafts, as this is the only livelihood they can find.


Developed countries (những quốc gia phát triển) = countries considered to have advanced economies, industries and social infrastructure

E.g.      Developed countries contribute aid to those nations affected by famine.


Developing countries (những quốc gia đang phát triển) = countries not generally considered to be fully developed yet

E.g.      Illiteracy is a huge challenge for developing countries to overcome.