Global Commons Survey: Attitudes to Transformation and Planetary Stewardship

Latest findings from The Global Commons Alliance report on attitudes to transformation and planetary stewardship.

The author(s)
  • Sophie Thompson Public Affairs
  • Bridget Williams Public Affairs
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The Global Commons Alliance has published its report on findings from a survey on attitudes to transformation and planetary stewardship. The survey was conducted between April and May 2021 by Ipsos. Representative of adults aged 16-75 in 19 G20 countries, the survey focused on: shared identity and values as planetary stewards, understanding the challenges to protecting and restoring nature, attitudes towards responsibility for the global commons, attitudes towards major, social transformation and the impact of COVID-19 on these, and attitudes actions supporting transformation.

Key findings from the survey are: 

  • People are concerned about the state of nature: The majority of people across the G20 are concerned about the state of nature, both today (58% say they are worried) and in relation to protecting it for future generations (61%). Moreover, 73% of people believe Earth is close to “tipping points” because of human action.
  • People also want to do something about it: The vast majority of people across the G20 want to do more to protect and restore nature in future (83%). People in developing countries in the G20 are more likely to say they are willing to do more to protect nature than those in wealthy, developed nations. In addition, 69% of people across the G20 believe the benefits of action to protect the global commons outweigh the costs. However, barriers to action at present are generally financial, lack of knowledge and lack of facilities. 
  • Awareness of a need for major, societal change is less well developed: The energy system is by some way the most well-known area of transformation with 59% of people across the G20 aware of need to change this. But further work is needed to raise awareness of other needs. Two thirds of people across the G20 are only aware of the need for transformation in 1-3 of the seven areas they were presented with. Only 8% of people agree that sweeping societal changes are needed in the next decade to safeguard the global commons. One of the changes discussed in the survey is a move to wellbeing economies. There is a strong desire to move to such economies, with 74% agreeing that their country’s economy should prioritise the health and wellbeing of people and nature rather than focusing solely on profit. 
  • There is support for science-based targets for nature 71% say they support targets for achieving the protection and restoration of nature being based on science. However, only a third (32%) agree that when choosing between products or services, it makes no difference to them if the business supplying them has set targets based on science to protect and restore nature. This could be because science-based targets are a newer issue, with low levels of awareness and understanding at present. 
  • The media may be communicating about environmental issues, but they are not informing people on how to take action: 2 in 5 feel that media reporting helps them to understand environmental issues. However, a similar proportion (43%) think the media communicates about nature and climate in a way that supports action. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is seen as a key opportunity for change: People believe the pandemic demonstrated what action was possible when faced with a global emergency, as well as providing a unique moment to transform societies. Three quarters (75%) agree that the pandemic has shown that it is possible for people to transform behaviour very rapidly. A similar proportion (71%) agree the pandemic recovery is a unique moment to build societies more resilient to future shocks. Around a third also felt that people are now more aware of how interconnected societies are due to COVID-19. At the same time, only a quarter felt combatting COVID-19 eclipsed talking about protecting and restoring nature. 
  • Across the G20 people support cooperation on global challenges: two thirds (66%) from across the G20 support nations working together to solve global challenges. 

Tables for individual countries within the G20 are available on request.

Technical note

  • Data was collected through an Ipsos i-Omnibus Online Panel survey, run between 27th April and 14th May 2021. Within each country, data has been weighted to be broadly representative of the profile of the population aged 16-75. 
  • In combining responses from across the G20, we did not weight by population size because of the large differences in population across the G20 countries. 
  • The sample for the survey was 19,735 adults aged 16-75 across the G20: around 1,000 interviews in each country. 
The author(s)
  • Sophie Thompson Public Affairs
  • Bridget Williams Public Affairs

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