The world in chairs


Issues adressed:

It shows Informations about the world poulation poverty and wealth and CO2 Emissions around the world in an interactive way.


To get general information and a realistic view on distribution of poverty wealth and CO2 Emossions around the world.

Time: 45 minutes

Groupsize: 15-40

Age: 14-99


A big room with the same number of chairs as participants. Big sheets of paper with the names and outlines of the continents

A poster with the name of the continents and two free columns (one for participants’ assumption and one for the real number). And you need as many garbage sacks as participants.


Prepare 5 big sheets of paper with the names of North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia (Australia and New Zealand belong to Asia in this activity)

The continents will be spread out in the room according to their real geographic position.


Part one: The number of participants represents the world population

The participants should spread out over the 5 spaces. They situate themselves according to how they think the population distribution is.

Afterwards the distribution will be corrected by the group leader, using the real numbers: The moderator should write the assumed and the real numbers on the poster.

Part two: The global world income

Now the chairs become important. They represent the global world income in total and single chairs symbolize a part of the global income. There should be one chair per participant. Each participate takes one chair from the middle of the room and arrange them on the continents according to how they think the global world income is distributed.

The distribution will again be corrected by the real numbers on the poster.

Part three: Per capita income

Now, with the world population and the world income distributed throughout the continents, the participants have to sit on the chairs in their continent. In Asia the participants will have trouble fitting so many participants on one chair, while in North America they will have to spread out overmany chairs.

At this point, it`s senseful to do already a short evaluation with asking the participants, how they feel, with sitting on the chairs or standing.

You can ask the following questions:

  • Do you feel good?

  • How do you feel with your wealth?

Part four: CO2 Emissions

Now the participants are asked to picture with garbage sacks the distributions of CO2 Emissions on the continents. Every participant gets one garbage sack and has to place it.

Afterwards, these estimations will be corrected again on the poster and with the garbage sacks.

After this, the participants and moderators sit together in a circle and reflect the whole method.

You (as the moderators) can ask the following questions:

  • Which estimations of you have been right/wrong?
  • What surprised you?
  • What do you think about the distribution of world population, wealth and CO2 Emissions?
  • Appears this distribution unfair to you?
  • Which could be the reasons for this distribution?
  • Which are the effects of this distribution?
  • Which countries are more effected from ecological destruction and climate change than others? And who is causing
    these effects mainly?


The method is good, because it shows clearly and for everyone understandable the distribution of the worldpopulation and the distribution of CO2 Emissions.

Everyone is involved in this method, that`s why everybody is concentrated.

For the moderators it would be good to have more sophisticated political background informations about the CO2 emissions in the different countries.

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