GLOBE-Net, June 1, 2012 - 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.
The polls, conducted by The Regeneration Project 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.
"Sustainable consumption is a
necessary element of a future sustainable economy and society."
Mark Lee, SustainAbility Executive Director
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.
"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," said Mark Lee, SustainAbility Executive Director
Emerging market consumers are particularly likely to reject the
notion that environmental and economic prosperity are mutually
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
"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."
Chris Coulter, GlobeScan PresidentThe poll results
speak directly to the terms of debate leading up to the Rio+20
Summit later this month. UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP
Executive Director Achim Steiner commented: "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
"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,: Steiner added.
"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," he noted.
Steiner's comments are particularly relevant given that many
envirnmental experts believe little or nothing of consequence will
emerge from the Rio+20 event. According to a major
international poll of sustainable development experts, a majority
of opinion leaders surveyed (57%) view the Rio+20 United Nations
Summit as a critical opportunity to make progress on sustainability
leadership, but very few (13%) think it will succeed. See GLOBE-Net
article: "Forty Days and Forty Nights - The Countdown to
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.
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
The Regeneration Project is a collaborative and
multi-faceted initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility, that aims
to provide a roadmap for achieving sustainable development within
the next generation, focusing in particular on ways the private
sector can improve sustainability strategy, increase credibility
and deliver results at greater speed and scale. More information on
the project is available here.