Report: Kiwis hot on global sustainability goals

By Wright Communications

The Colmar Brunton 2016 Better Futures Report incorporated the results of New Zealand's first ever survey into the public's attitude to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to which the Government signed up in 2015.

The 17 SDGs include a mix of social, environmental, cultural and economic goals such as no poverty, climate action, reduced inequalities, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth and quality education.

Colmar Brunton Chief Client Officer Sarah Bolger says the Better Futures Report reveals some valuable insights and plenty of opportunities for business and the Government.

"While there was little unprompted awareness of the goals and the fact New Zealand has signed up to them, respondents had some clear opinions when asked about the individual goals," Ms Bolger says.

Between 60% and 80% of Kiwis rate each goal as very important. When those people were asked to name the single most important goal the top six in order of priority were: no poverty, good health and well-being, quality education, sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, and zero hunger.

"It's clear from this that New Zealanders care most about improving the day-to-day lives of others and there is a strong skew towards social issues in the top six goals.

"In particular Kiwis think we need to do more towards achieving zero hunger, sustainable cities and communities and no poverty, as they believe our performance in these areas fails to measure up to the importance we place on them."

However, the Better Futures Report also revealed that the businesses and organisations recognised by the public for their sustainable practices are primarily focussed on environmental issues.

"The public are telling us that, while they consider these environmental issues as very important, there are others that are more pressing."

Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Abbie Reynolds says these are valuable insights for the business community.

"Knowing which of the SDGs Kiwis see as the most important gives businesses the opportunity to align their sustainability efforts to their consumers' priorities, if they haven't already," she says.

"If they are undertaking initiatives in those areas identified as the most important then they need to be telling their stories better because it's clear from the report that people want to hear them but aren't."

The report reveals that while businesses are slowly getting better at communicating their sustainability activities, three quarters of those surveyed say the way businesses talk about their social and environmental initiatives is confusing.

Wright Communications Group Account Director Simon Roche says the key take out is that Kiwis need and want to hear more about these issues.

"There's an appetite from Kiwis to learn more about what the country is doing to try and achieve the goals and how we really compare to other countries. That all adds up to a huge communications opportunity for businesses and policymakers."

Ms Bolger added that detailed data captured during the 2016 Better Futures research has the potential to help inform a government strategy for the SDGs.


United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Spearheaded by the United Nations, the SDGs is a set of seventeen aspirational goals that commits the 193 signatory countries to take actions to end poverty, fight inequality and protect the environment.

Here is the complete list of the SDGs in order of importance that Kiwis rated them in the 2016 Better Futures Report.

  1. No poverty
  2. Good health and well-being
  3. Quality education
  4. Sustainable cities and communities
  5. Clean water and sanitation
  6. Zero hunger
  7. Climate action
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Peace, justice and strong institutions

10.  Affordable and clean energy

11.  Reduced inequalities

12.  Responsible consumption and production

13.  Industry and innovation

14.  Gender equality

15.  Life below water

16.  Life on land

17.  Partnerships for the goals (not surveyed)

Other top line findings from the Colmar Brunton Better Futures Report 2016

Outside of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Better Futures Report captures a broad range of Kiwi attitudes to sustainability. Some of the key findings from this year's report include:

  • The number of people very concerned about affordable housing has risen 22% since 2011 and 2% since last year.
  • Concern about the impact of climate change on NZ is up 5% from last year.
  • Kiwis are becoming increasingly committed to living green and sustainable lifestyles.
  • Kiwis care about sustainability and want to be more engaged.
  • 91% want to have all the facts so they can make intelligent decisions.
  • 83% worry about the future and whether we are doing enough to keep NZ safe and healthy.
  • 72% say it's important for them to work in a socially and environmentally responsible company and 66% would rather work for a company with strong values even if they are paid less.
  • 31% say they will buy more fair trade or ethically, socially and environmentally friendly products over the next year. Only 2% will buy less.
  • Sustainability is increasingly influencing purchasing behaviour across all categories including the likes of airlines, banks, insurance.

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