Green Economy Will Boost Jobs and Economic Growth, According to Global Poll of Consumers and Experts

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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%). 

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QUESTION WORDING: Please indicate if you think a “green economy” would be more or less effective than today’s economy in addressing each of the following challenges.
NOTE: A simplified version of UNEP’s definition of Green Economy was provided to consumers: “By ‘green economy’ we mean an economy that improves human well-being and shares economic benefits broadly while significantly reducing environmental impacts. A ‘green economy’ would use clean energy, be highly efficient in the use of resources and deliver economic benefits to all.

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.
Strikingly, emerging market consumers are particularly likely to reject the notion that environmental and economic prosperity are mutually exclusive. 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 immediate results.
The poll results speak directly to the terms of debate leading up to the Rio+20 Summit later this month, as UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner comments:  “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 sustainable century.”
“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. 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,” Steiner added.
Mark Lee, SustainAbility Executive Director, comments: “Sustainable consumption is a necessary element of a future sustainable economy and society. 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.”
Chris Coulter, GlobeScan President, comments: “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.”
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 You?
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.

Complete country level data is available upon request.

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About the Survey of Consumers

The poll was conducted in collaboration with National Geographic and GlobeScan on the annual Greendex survey. The findings result from an international consumer survey conducted between March 12–May 3, 2012. One thousand adults, 18 and older, completed this online survey in each of 17 countries. To ensure that no demographic groups were over-represented in the quantitative survey sample, quota caps were set for education, age, and gender. The data for each country were weighted according to the latest census data to reflect the demographic profile of each country.

About the Survey of Sustainability Thought Leaders

The findings are drawn from a GlobeScan / SustainAbility survey of sustainability experts across corporate, government, NGO, academic, research, and service / media organizations in 117 countries. From mid-April to mid-May 2012, a total of 1,603 experts were surveyed online by GlobeScan, SustainAbility and The Regeneration Roadmap partners—ICMM, UNEP, Civicus, WBCSD, World Bank, CBSR, and GLOBE. Participants comprise a highly-experienced respondent pool: 58 percent have more than ten years of experience working on sustainability issues; 31 percent have five to ten years of experience; 12 percent have three to four years of experience.

About The Regeneration Roadmap

The Regeneration Roadmap 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 sustainable development strategy, increase credibility and deliver results at greater speed and scale. The project is presented by BMW Group and SC Johnson and sponsored by DuPont, Cisco, Interface and Pfizer, and supported by many other partners including UNEP, National Geographic and the World Bank.
For more information and a complete list of supporters, visit

About UNEP

UNEP, established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners, including United Nations entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society.
For more information, visit

About GlobeScan

For 25 years, GlobeScan has helped clients measure and build value-generating relationships with their stakeholders. Uniquely placed at the nexus of reputation, brand and sustainability, we partner with clients to build trust, drive engagement and inspire innovation within, around and beyond their organizations.
For more information, visit

About SustainAbility

SustainAbility is a think-tank and strategic advisory firm working to inspire transformative business leadership on the sustainability agenda. Established in 1987, SustainAbility delivers illuminating foresight and actionable insight on sustainable development trends and issues.
For more information, visit