Global Commons Survey: Attitudes to Transformation and Planetary Stewardship

The Global Commons Alliance has published its report on findings from a survey in Sweden on attitudes to transformation and planetary stewardship


  • Sophie Thompson Senior Research Executive
  • Bridget Williams Research Director
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The survey was conducted in May 2021 by Ipsos MORI. Representative of adults aged 16-65 in 19 Sweden, 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: 2 in 5 people in Sweden are concerned about the state of nature today (40%), while 45% are concerned about the way in which we will leave nature for future generations. Moreover, 63% 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 in Sweden want to do more to protect and restore nature in future (74%). In addition, two thirds (67%) 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 competing priorities.
  • 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 58% of people surveyed in Sweden aware of need to change this.  But further work is needed to raise awareness of other needs. Over half (57%) of people are only aware of the need for transformation in 1-3 of the seven areas they were presented with. Only 13% 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 56% agreeing that Sweden’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: Three quarters (76%) of those surveyed in Sweden say they support targets for achieving the protection and restoration of nature being based on science. However, only 28% 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: Just a third (35%) of those in Sweden feel that media reporting helps them to understand environmental issues. Linked to this, 42% think the media communicates about nature and climate that leaves them unclear on what action they can take.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is seen as a key opportunity for change: People in Sweden believe the pandemic demonstrated what action was possible when faced with a global emergency, as well as providing a unique moment to transform societies. Two thirds (68%) agree that the pandemic has shown that it is possible for people to transform behaviour very rapidly.  A similar proportion (66%) agree the pandemic recovery is a unique moment to build societies more resilient to future shocks. Around half (54%) also felt that people are now more aware of how interconnected societies are due to COVID-19. At the same time, only 16% felt combatting COVID-19 eclipsed talking about protecting and restoring nature.
  • People support cooperation on global challenges: Half (51%) of those surveyed in Sweden support nations working together to solve global challenges.

Data tables are available in Excel format on request.

Technical note
Data for was collected through an Ipsos i-Omnibus Online Panel survey, run between 5th – 7th May 2021.  Data has been weighted to be broadly representative of the profile of the population aged 16-65.
The sample for the survey was 1,097 adults aged 16-65 in Sweden.



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  • Sophie Thompson Senior Research Executive
  • Bridget Williams Research Director

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