Embargoed Media Release:
5 a.m. GMT Friday 19 November 2004

Media contacts About GlobeScan Questionnaire Methodology Research Partners


Results of First-Ever Global Poll on Humanity’s
Relationship with Nature

Inaction on Species Loss Seen Leading to a Catastrophic Outcome
People Worldwide Feel Powerful Connections with Nature
Global Differences in Personal Efficacy

Bangkok, Thailand – At the IUCN World Conservation Congress here today, global opinion researchers from GlobeScan Incorporated, in association with the Com+ Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development, released provocative findings from the first-ever global public opinion poll on humanity’s relationship with nature.

Results of the poll show that majorities across the 20 countries surveyed by GlobeScan believe that failure to address species loss within 20 years will imperil Earth’s ability to sustain life. Moreover, citizens report having a deep, practical, and even spiritual relationship with nature. But belief that individuals have the capacity to help reverse species loss varies extensively from country to country, primarily by levels of economic development.

As world conservation leaders gather this week in Bangkok at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the poll sends the message that citizens the world over care deeply about nature and feel strongly that society must address the growing rate at which species are becoming threatened.

The poll, forming part of GlobeScan’s 8th annual International Environmental Monitor survey, was conducted between June and August 2004 with a representative sample of 20,753 adult citizens across 20 countries.

Because of the difficulties of conducting opinion research in developing countries, a metropolitan sample was used in six of the 20 countries. The margin of error on each national survey ranges from 2.3 percent to 5.0 percent. Full results are available from GlobeScan by commercial subscription.

Commenting on the survey results, Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan said “We knew from our prior research that nature issues had come to dominate the public’s environmental agenda in the industrialized world, while pollution remained the dominant concern in developing countries. But the current findings reveal a powerful element of self-interest on the part of citizens of both North and South. People all over the world are saying loudly that they care deeply about what society does to address species loss, because they believe the future of our species is at risk.”

Further survey results are reported below.

A Threatened Planet...

Majorities in a diverse 15 of 20 countries surveyed believe that “if no action is taken to reduce species loss,” 20 years out, species loss will severely threaten Earth's ability to sustain life. Overall, 52 percent of respondents believe that inaction will threaten Earth’s ability to support life. By comparison, 26 percent of citizens surveyed expect there to be significantly fewer species, but with no significant effect on the planet overall. Just 12 percent anticipate that only a small percentage of species will be lost.

The opinion that failing to address species loss will soon imperil Earth’s survival is progressively more pervasive among younger age groups, suggesting growing realization that biodiversity and human well-being are inherently linked.

Urban Brazilians (68%) are most likely to anticipate a threat to the planet's survival, while Americans (40%), Russians (37%), and Czechs (32%) are among the least to do so. Opinion in China (56%) and Canada (56%) – among the world's fastest growing and most resource-intensive economies respectively – reflects the global average. Only in the Czech Republic (43%) and Netherlands (28%) is the prevailing opinion that there will be significantly fewer species but with little impact on the planet overall. In the United States (33%), a larger than average percentage have similar expectations, but a plurality of 40 percent still anticipate that species loss will affect Earth’s ability to sustain life.

People in the Global South – home of much of the world’s biodiversity – are 10 points more likely than those in Northern countries to respond that inaction on species could imperil the planet’s life support system. This view is especially widespread in Latin America.

Key to Quality of Life...

Nature is a quality-of-life issue for people around the world. Strong majorities in all countries surveyed, ranging from 62 percent in Turkey to 94 percent in Canada, agree that “experiencing nature and wildlife is one of the best experiences [they] can have.”

People in Germany (91%), Great Britain (90%), South Africa (91%) and China (92%) are among the most likely to agree that nature has an important experiential value for them. Those in Nigeria (67%), India (76%), Russia (70%), and Italy (70%) are among the least likely.

Beyond nature’s experiential value, similarly strong majorities say that nature has a special spiritual quality for them personally. Humanity’s connection to nature is multidimensional. This personal stake that citizens have in nature suggests there is latent potential for social mobilization around nature issues – especially if those personal interests come to be perceived as threatened.

Enabling Initiatives Needed...

The world is divided on the extent to which individuals have the capacity to contribute meaningfully to curbing species loss, with 44 percent disagreeing that “the current threat to species and their habitat is such a big problem that there is very little the individual can do about it.”

While 59 percent of people in wealthy countries disagree that individuals can do little about species loss, only 32 percent of those in developing countries feel similarly empowered.

Citizens of the G7 countries, especially the United States (77%) and Canada (74%), are most inclined to deny that there is little the individual can do to counter species loss. People in Indonesia (11%), Russia (15%) and China (23%) feel least empowered. Latin Americans, who are most likely to anticipate a catastrophic outcome if no action is taken on species loss, tend be divided on this issue.

“Given the practical and spiritual importance of nature felt globally, societal leaders would do well to foster social initiatives designed to unlock the potential for behavioral change – especially in jurisdictions where citizens believe that they have personal efficacy,” Doug Miller of GlobeScan added.


Media Contacts:

(Click on name to e-mail.)

Mr. Doug Miller, President
GlobeScan Incorporated
Bangkok: +66 2 344 8888 Rm.452
London: +44.20.7376.0906
Mr. Eric Whan, Director
Environmental Issues Research
GlobeScan Incorporated
Toronto: +1.416.969.3087

 

GlobeScan Incorporated is a global public opinion and stakeholder research firm with offices in Toronto, London, and Washington. GlobeScan conducts custom research and annual tracking studies on global issues. With a research network spanning 50+ countries, GlobeScan works with global companies, multilateral agencies, national governments and non-government organizations to deliver research-based insights for successful strategies.

Mailing address: 65 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 900, Toronto Canada M4T 2Y3

Telephone: +1.416.962.0707

Fax: +1.416.920.3510

Website: www.GlobeScan.com


International Environmental Monitor
Nature Issues – Questionnaire for Media Release

1. For each of the following statements, please tell me if you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree.
a) Nature has a special spiritual quality for me personally.
01- Strongly agree
02- Somewhat agree
03- Somewhat disagree
04- Strongly disagree
VOLUNTEERED
99- DK/NA
b) Experiencing nature and wildlife is one of the best experiences I can have.
c) The current threat to species and their habitat is such a big problem that there is very little the individual can do about it.

2. Thinking ahead 20 years, if no action is taken to reduce species loss, which one of the following do you think will most likely result?
01- Only a small percentage of species will be lost
02- There will be significantly fewer species, but with no serious effect on the planet overall
03- Species loss will seriously affect the planet’s ability to sustain life
VOLUNTEERED
04- None
05- Combination
97- Other (please specify)
99- DK/NA


Survey Methodology

Country Sample Size
(unweighted)
Field dates Sample frame Survey
methodology
Type of
sample
Argentina 1002 May 20-24, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Nation-wide
Brazil 500 August 12-23, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Urban1
Canada 1598 May 27 - July 5, 2004 18 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
China 1800 July 2-18, 2004 18 years or older Telephone Urban2
Czech Republic 1006 June 10-25, 2004 15 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
France 1001 May 17-27, 2004 15 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
Germany 1002 June 15 - July 2, 2004 15 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
Great Britain 1001 May 17 - June 6, 2004 18 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
India 1016 July 7 - 19, 2004 15 years or older Face-to-face Urban3
Indonesia 1000 June 28 - July 12, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Urban4
Italy 1007 July 8-21, 2004 18 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
Mexico 1000 July 1-15, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Nation-wide
Netherlands 1060 July 15-27, 2004 18 years or older Internet Nation-wide
Nigeria 1000 July 19-27, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Nation-wide
Philippines 500 August 16-24, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Urban5
Russia 1035 June 12-22, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Nation-wide
South Africa 1500 July 23-28, 2004 18 years or older Telephone Nation-wide
Spain 52 July 26 - August 4, 2004 18 years or older Face-to-face Nation-wide
Turkey 1200 August 6 - Sept. 1, 2004 15 years or older Face-to-face Urban6
USA 1003 May 19 - June 8, 2004 18 years or older Telephone Nation-wide

1In Brazil, the survey was conducted in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, representing 35% of the total urban population.
2In China the survey was conducted in Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Xi’an, representing 36% of the total population in Urban China.
3In India the survey was conducted in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai, representing 20% of the total urban population.
4In Indonesia, the survey was conducted in Jakarta and Surabaya, representing 13% of the total urban population.
5In Philippines, the survey was conducted in 14 cities and 3 municipalities, representing 27% of the total urban population.
6In Turkey the survey was conducted in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Samsun, and Zonguldak, representing 46% of the total population.


Partner Research Institutes

Country Research Institute Location
Argentina TNS Gallup Argentina Buenos Aires
Brazil Poliedro Pesquisa de Mercado Sao Paulo
Canada GlobeScan / Research House Toronto
China Survey & Statistics Institute of BBI Beijing
Czech Republic RCA Research, Spol. s.r.o Prague
France Efficience3 Paris
Germany Ri*QUESTA GmbH Teningen
Great Britain GlobeScan / ICM Direct London
India AC Nielsen ORG-MARG Research Limited Mumbai
Indonesia Deka Marketing Research Jakarta
Italy Eurisko-NOP World Milan
Mexico Mund Americas Mexico City
Netherlands TNS–NIPO Amsterdam
Nigeria Market Trends Research International, Nigeria Ltd. Lagos
Philippines Sigma Dos Philippines Manila
Russia CESSI Institute for Comparative Social Research Moscow
South Africa Markinor (Pty) Ltd Randburg
Spain Quota Research, S.A. Madrid
Turkey Yontem Research & Consultancy Limited Istanbul
USA GlobeScan / Research House Toronto