Global Survey on the SDGs

A brief summary of the report on the results of the Global Survey on sustainability and the SDGs

Global Survey

“What does sustainability mean to you?” – the Global Survey was able to reach out to approximately 27,000 participants from 174 countries – Source: website capture

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A lot has happened since then, but what do people perceive? And what moves them when it comes to sustainability? For the first time, these questions were the focus of a global survey, the Global Survey on Sustainability and the SDGs (Global Survey).

Between September 2018 and June 2019, the Global Survey targeted private individuals and representatives of politics, business, academia, the media and civil society both on a national and international level. The aim was to prioritize relevant topics relating to the environment, social issues and the economy in the respective countries and sectors and to establish the urgency for action. In addition, the performance of the institutions in each country has been assessed.

The Global Survey was funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety) as part of the “Export Initiative Environmental Technologies”, and was designed and implemented by the sustainability consultancy Schlange & Co. (S&C). The Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) was commissioned as an academic partner for scientific support.


More than 250 organizations and social media influencers helped to disseminate the Global Survey. The key findings of the Global Survey are:

  1. Less than half of the respondents worldwide know the SDGs.
  2. Climate Action, Quality Education and Good Health and Well-being have the highest priority, with regional differences arising in the area of Climate Action.
  3. Young people prioritize Climate Action, whereas older generations prefer Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education and biodiversity.
  4. In assessing the importance of Gender Equality, there is a significant gap between gender and region.
  5. Worldwide, respondents take sustainability into account in voting and short-term economic decisions; in Europe, the choice of employer is the most important from a sustainability perspective.

Respondents see all sectors as having a responsibility to promote sustainable development, but governments in particular.