As the Rio+20 Earth Summit kicks off in Brazil this week, a new poll of 17,000 consumers across 17 countries finds that 55% of people worldwide want their government to “play a leadership role in making ambitious international commitments to reduce global poverty in ways that improve the environment.” A further 40% want their government to support moderate international commitments to the same end. The findings put pressure on summit negotiators to deliver an outcome that will satisfy constituents at home.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with National Geographic, is part of a series of initiatives by The Regeneration Roadmap in the lead up to Rio+20, a cross-sectoral collaboration that aims to accelerate progress in the transition to sustainable development.
Consumers in Latin America are particularly demanding of their governments at the conference, with strong majorities in Mexico (80%), Brazil (74%)—the summit’s host—and Argentina (67%) calling for ambitious leadership positions at the conference. Indians (63%) are the next most likely to want their delegates to take ambitious action at the Rio+20 Summit followed by Canadians (58%). Half of American and Chinese consumers (51% each) call for their governments to provide ambitious leadership at the conference. Germans are the least likely of those in the 17 countries surveyed to support a leadership position by their government at the conference (43%).
Perhaps the most compelling finding of the survey is that so few people—only 5 percent globally--want their countries to avoid committing to any international agreements at the summit. Americans are the most inclined to prefer that their government makes no international commitment, at 11%.
The poll is a strong endorsement of the view that international agreements are needed to resolve international sustainable development challenges.
Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President for Mission Programs at National Geographic, commented, “Everyone heading to Rio should be heartened to hear that there is broad public support for leaders to take meaningful action on issues related to climate change. Surveys like this suggest there is real opportunity here.”
Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan said: “The poll makes it clear that people want their governments to push for an ambitious global agreement at Rio, even if that is not a goal of the summit. Like we have seen in other research with National Geographic, people are craving visionary leadership so that they can follow suit in their own behavior as consumers.”
Lindsay Clinton, Senior Manager at SustainAbility commented: “While international treaties are not an expected outcome from Rio+20, the evidence that consumers want national governments to lead is a call to arms. If governments fail to act, we hope that the private sector will heed the call from consumers and exhibit leadership through their own sustainability commitments at the Summit.”
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