Awareness of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is highest in emerging countries

Three-quarters of adults globally have at least some awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Public Affairs, US
Get in touch

A new Ipsos survey finds that at a global level, three out of four adults (74%) have at least some awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals, laid out by world leaders in 2015, were 17 benchmarks set in order to end poverty, fight inequality, and stop climate change around the world. This survey asked more than 19,000 adults from 28 countries about their awareness and opinions of 16 of the 17 SDGs.

Awareness and familiarity with the SDGs tend to be significantly higher in emerging countries than they are in economically advanced countries. Awareness, i.e., the incidence of adults who have at least heard about them, is highest in Turkey (92%), mainland China (90%), followed by India (89%) along with Brazil, Malaysia and Sweden (87% in all three).  However, it is the case of about half of all adults in Japan (49%), Great Britain (49%), the United States (50%) and Canada (51%).

While those who say they are somewhat or very familiar with the UN SDGs make up one quarter of all adults globally (26%), they are a majority in India (55%), Turkey (53%), China (52%) and Saudi Arabia (51%). In contrast, only about one in ten people surveyed in Japan (8%), France (11%), Italy (11%), Canada (11%), and Great Britain (13%) report being familiar with the SDGs.

Each one of the first 16 SDGs is deemed very or somewhat important by at least three quarters of all adults surveyed across the 18 countries. They rank as follows in perceived importance:

  • Zero Hunger (Goal 2): 85% — #1 in 7 countries (Belgium, Chile, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Russia and South Africa), but second to last (#15) in India
  • Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6): 84% — #1 in 3 countries (Argentina, France, Turkey) and in the top 3 of 12 other countries
  • Good Health and Well-being (Goal 3): 84% — in the top 3 of 11 countries, including #1 in Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States
  • Affordable and Clean Energy (Goal 7): 83% — in the top 3 of 11 countries, including #1 in Canada, China, Great Britain and Poland
  • Life Below Water (Goal 14): 83% — #1 in Germany, Spain and Peru
  • Life on Land (Goal 15): 83% — #1 in South Korea and in the top 3 of Brazil, Chile, China, India, Malaysia and Peru
  • Quality Education (Goal 4): 82% — #1 in Brazil, Malaysia, and Singapore, but last (#16) in Peru and third to last (#14) in Poland and China
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth (Goal 8): 82% — #2 in Spain, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa
  • No Poverty (Goal 1): 82% — in the top 3 of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Mexico
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities (Goal 11): 81% — in the top 5 of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Russia
  • Climate Action (Goal 13): 80% — in the top 5 of Poland, Peru, France and South Korea
  • Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (Goal 16): 79% — in the top 5 of Argentina, Germany and Malaysia
  • Responsible Consumption and Production (Goal 12): 79% — #1 in India and in the top 5 of Turkey and Saudi Arabia
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (Goal 9): 79% — #1 in Saudi Arabia
  • Reduced Inequality (Goal 10): 76% — in the top 5 of Italy, Brazil, Hungary and Turkey
  • Gender Equality (Goal 5): 74% — #1 in Sweden and #2 in India

These are the results of a survey conducted by Ipsos for the World Economic Forum, read their article.

Ipsos interviewed a total of 19,517 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 21-74 in Singapore, and 16-74 in 22 other countries on its Global Advisor online survey platform between July 26 and August 9, 2019. The sample consists of approximately 1,000 individuals in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland), France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Great Britain and the U.S., and 500 individuals in each of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey. The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, 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), 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 these population.
The data is weighted so that each country’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.
Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of online surveys conducted on Global Advisor is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. Here, the poll has a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points for countries where the sample is 1,000+ and +/- 4.8 points for countries where the sample is 500+. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please go to
The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Public Affairs, US