Ahead of Rio+20, governments on back foot

Government leaders have fallen well behind leaders of NGOs, corporations, and multilateral organizations in advancing the sustainability agenda ahead of the Rio+20 Summit, according to GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s recent survey of experts in the field.
GlobeScan and SustainAbility surveyed over 500 sustainability experts from across 60+ countries on the sustainability performance of key players at the Rio+20 Summit.
With experts giving high marks to NGO leaders on advancing the sustainability agenda, middling ratings to corporate leaders and leaders of multilateral organizations, and poor grades to nationally elected governmental leaders, the expert perspectives mirror global public opinion polling on trust. According to GlobeScan’s research, people across the world have the most trust in NGOs and the least in government. Business enjoys low but improving trust among the general public.

These findings show that while governments remain the principal actors at the Summit, both stakeholders and the general public are increasingly critical of their performance. While ensuring a strong role in Rio de Janeiro for a range of stakeholders including civil society, business, and UN agencies will be important, the results of the survey suggest there needs to be special emphasis placed on the role of NGOs. Elevating their role at the conference could be one way of providing some badly needed cover to national governments that might unlock unexpected progress in the negotiations.
Finding from The SustainAbility Survey, 2011
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.