LONDON – A Green Economy would have a more positive impact on major economic, social and environmental problems than today's economy, according to two new global surveys of consumers and thought leaders released today.
The polls, conducted by The Regeneration Roadmap in partnership with UNEP, surveyed 17,000 consumers across 17 countries and 1,600 sustainable development experts from business, civil society, government and academia from 117 countries.
Consumers worldwide say a Green Economy will be more effective than the traditional economy in improving nearly every challenge tested. Ratings are especially high for protecting the environment (70%), creating a better future for our children (68%), improving quality of life (61%) and addressing climate change (61%).
By a smaller margin, consumers also believe that a Green Economy will be more effective than today’s economy in creating high paying jobs (32%) and increasing even short-term economic growth (31%). The only area where consumers are more doubtful of the effectiveness of a Green Economy is when it comes to generating low-paying jobs, on which opinions are split.
Strikingly, emerging market consumers are particularly likely to reject the notion that environmental and economic prosperity are mutually exclusive. Consumers in lower GDP per capita countries tend to be more optimistic about the impact of a Green Economy on all areas, especially when it comes to improving quality of life (70%), increasing long-term economic growth (58%), reducing poverty (44%), and creating high-paying jobs (43%).
Reinforcing the resonance of the concept of a Green Economy, when sustainability thought leaders are asked the same survey question as consumers, they are even more likely (by approximately 20 points) than consumers to think that a Green Economy will yield positive outcomes across almost all challenges examined. The sharpest exception relates to fostering short-term economic growth, where experts are less likely than consumers to anticipate immediate results.
The poll results speak directly to the terms of debate leading up to the Rio+20 Summit later this month, as UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner comments: “The Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication is one of the key, top themes for Rio+20. It is not an alternative pathway or a separate universe, but a way of realizing a sustainable century.”
“It is clear that a transformation towards a low carbon, resource efficient, job generating Green Economy is happening in many countries across the globe and this survey underlines public support for its aims and aspirations. The challenge for world leaders, cities, companies and civil society this June is to back the smart policies and creative investment flows that will fast-forward, scale-up and accelerate this positive change,” Steiner added.
Mark Lee, SustainAbility Executive Director, comments: “Sustainable consumption is a necessary element of a future sustainable economy and society. The strong alignment of consumer and expert stakeholder views on the value of a Green Economy provides hope that more consumers may be ready and willing to participate in the necessary transition.”
Chris Coulter, GlobeScan President, comments: “The degree to which people in developing countries believe that a Green Economy will lead to more and better jobs is remarkable. Old concerns about a tradeoff between environment and development do not seem to apply today.”
The findings come on the eve of the UN’s World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5 June with Brazil acting as the ‘global’ host for 2012 under the theme Green Economy: Does it Include You?
Other survey highlights include:
- Seventeen percent of consumers across 17 countries say they understand “exactly what the Green Economy means” and a further 53% are “fairly sure” they do, suggesting that the Green Economy appears to be an accessible construct for consumers.
- Consumers in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico are most optimistic that a Green Economy will improve quality of life. Those in Japan are least likely to think so.
- Chinese, Hungarian and Mexican consumers would expect to see long-term economic growth as an outcome of a Green Economy more than those in all other countries surveyed. Western Europeans are least likely to agree.