Australia ranks ending hunger and health and wellbeing as top priorities among U.N. SDGs

Governments more likely than businesses and citizens to be seen as not taking enough responsibility for achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Zero hunger, no poverty and good health and wellbeing have been ranked as the global public’s top priorities, according to a new Ipsos survey conducted in partnership with the World Economic Forum about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 goals (also referred to as “SDGs”) for a better world by 2030.  They engage governments, the private sector, civil society, and citizens to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Ipsos asked 20,000 adults from 28 countries to rank eight randomly selected SDGs among 16 of them, in order of priority to address today. Each of the 16 goals was evaluated by close to 10,000 respondents.

The survey finds a remarkable consensus among citizens from all regions of the world when it comes to top priorities.

  • “Zero hunger”, the SDG most viewed as a priority globally, ranks #1 in 20 of 28 countries and is in the top three of six other countries
  • “No poverty”, the #2 priority globally, ranks #1 in four countries and is in the top three of 20 other countries
  • “Good health and wellbeing”, the #3 priority globally, ranks #1 in four countries and is in the top three of 13 other countries

Furthermore, all three of the next priority goals based on the global ranking show in the top three of nine countries:

  • “Clean water and sanitation”,
  • “Decent work and economic growth”, and
  • “Quality education”.

In Australia, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing and no poverty, equal third with clean water and sanitation, were the top priorities, followed by life on the land, climate action and decent work and economic growth.

Ipsos Australia Director, Public Affairs, Jennifer Brook, said: “Consistent with people across the world, Australians ranked the SDGs that are related to humanitarian aspects of development as being the highest priority. Australians also placed a relatively high priority on the protection, restoration, and sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems, that is ‘Life on land’, which ranked at #5 compared with the global average ranking of #8. With around 84% of our plant species and 83% of our mammal species being found only in Australia and nowhere else in the world, Australians would be right to be concerned about the threats of human activity to our unique flora and fauna.”

All top three goals of most countries count among the global top six. Only five other SDGs show in the top three of any country: “climate action” at #3 in Great Britain, “life below water” at #3 in Germany; “peace, justice and strong institutions” at #3 in South Korea; “reduce inequality” at #3 in Belgium; and “gender equality” at #3 in India.

The global priority ranking based on the average ranking of all 16 goals in the 28 countries surveyed is as follows:

Global Priority Rank

U.N. Sustainable Development Goal

Goal Number and Description


Zero hunger

2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture


No poverty

1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere


Good health and well-being

3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages


Clean water and sanitation

6 -Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all


Decent work and economic growth

8 - Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all


Quality education

4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all


Climate action

13 -Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy


Life on land

15 - Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss


Life below water

14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development

10 (tie)

Affordable and clean energy

7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

10 (tie)

Peace, justice, and strong institutions

16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels


Reduced inequality

10 - Reduce income inequality within and among countries


Sustainable cities and communities

11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable


Responsible consumption and production

12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns


Gender equality

5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation


On average across all the countries surveyed, half of those asked say their government is taking less than their share of responsibility for achieving these goals (53%) while about four in 10 say so of businesses in their country (42%) and of “most people” in their country (40%). However, for each of their country’s government, businesses and people, an average of 22% say they are taking more than their share of responsibility.

In Australia, 52% say their government is taking less than their share of responsibility for achieving SDGs, 47% say businesses are not taking their share of responsibility and 40% say most people.

  • A majority globally think their government is skirting its responsibility in 20 countries—most so in Hungary, (71%), Colombia (69%), South Africa (69%), and Brazil (67%).
  • A majority think businesses are not doing enough in Chile (56%) Canada (55%), Turkey (55%), Great Britain (54%), Italy (52%) Hungary (52%), and Colombia (51%).
  • A majority are critical of “most people” in their country not doing enough in Turkey (60%), Hungary (56%) Italy (53%), and Canada (52%).

Read the World Economic Forum article.


About the Study

These are the results of a 28-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,585 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and people 16-74 in 24 other markets between April 23 and May 7, 2021.

The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and Turkey.

The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. can be taken as representative of these countries’ general adult population under the age of 75.

The samples in Brazil, Chile, China (mainland), Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.

The data is weighted so that each market’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data.

Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.8 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.

The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.

As a foundation member of the Australian Polling Council, Ipsos complies with the Council’s Code of Conduct.  The purpose of the Code is to provide journalists and the public with greater confidence and trust in publicly released polling and survey data. We strongly encourage the inclusion of methodological details in any reference to published Ipsos results.

This study is compliant with the Australian Polling Council Code of Conduct. The Long Methodology Disclosure Statement for the study will be available at within two business days.