Growing Awareness of the SDGs

New global public opinion research shows that there is increasing global awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with awareness being much higher in the Global South than in the Global North. Among those familiar with the SDGs, NGOs and the UN are rated the most positively on helping meet the SDGs while national governments and large companies are rated the lowest.

The survey by GlobeScan of nearly 30,000 people in 31 countries and territories was conducted in July and August of 2023 and shows that awareness of the SDGs has grown among the global public over the past six years. Half of people around the world now say they have heard at least some about the SDGs compared to 38 percent in 2017.

People in Africa, Asia, and Latin America tend to be much more aware of the SDGs than people in Europe and North America. Awareness is highest in Vietnam (77%), India (76%), China (75%), Egypt (72%), Thailand (64%), Nigeria (63%), Kenya (61%), Turkey (60%), and Brazil (60%). Japan stands out among G7 countries as having relatively high levels of awareness (57%).

Chart showing most people in the Global South say they are aware of the SDGs, contrasting with lower awareness in the Global North

In contrast, fewer than three in ten people in the Netherlands (25%) and in Australia (29%) are aware of the SDGs, while fewer than four in ten people in Canada (34%), the UK (34%), France (37%), South Korea (38%), and the USA (39%) are aware of the Goals.

Younger people are more aware of the SDGs than those who are older, with 58 percent of those under 30 saying they have heard at least some compared to 48 percent of those 30 and older. People with high education and high incomes are also more likely to be familiar with the Goals than those with lower education and lower incomes, as are those living in urban areas compared to more rural areas.

Among those with at least “some” awareness of the SDGs, NGOs (net rating of +37) and the UN (+32) are ranked the highest on their perceived performance in helping meet the SDGs, followed by large companies (+16) while national governments (+8) are ranked the lowest.

Chart showing NGOs and the UN are ranked the highest on their perceived net performance on helping meet the SDGs; national governments are rated the lowest

However, perceptions of the four actors on their performance to help meet the SDGs vary widely across the countries and territories surveyed. People in Asia-Pacific and Africa / Middle East are generally more positive about the performance of all four actors while Europeans tend to be the most negative.

Younger people under 30 are consistently more likely to rate all four actors slightly more positively on their contributions to meeting the SDGs than those 30 and over.

  1. Before today, how much have you seen, heard, or read about these Global Goals – a lot, some, a little, or nothing at all?
  2. [Asked to those who know “a lot” or “some” about the SDGs] How would you rate the performance of each of the following in making sure that the Sustainable Development Goals will be met?

GlobeScan administered the 20-minute online survey to approximately 1,000 adults per country in each of the 31 countries and territories except Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria, and Singapore where it was administered to 500 adults in each, and the USA where it was administered to 1,500 adults. The total sample was 29,565 adults.

The survey was translated into local native languages (English in Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore, and South Africa). All translations were proofread to ensure that the content was properly and completely translated with terminology suitable to the responding audience and ensuring that the text flows smoothly and naturally in each language.

Using stratified sampling from non-probability but managed online panels, samples are largely representative of the online population and weighted to the latest census data with the aim of being as nationally representative as possible. In some developing markets, the ability to weight to be nationally representative is limited by the extent of internet penetration (e.g., Kenya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam).

Data collection took place in July and August 2023.

table showing surveyed countries, sample size, and fieldwork dates about awareness of the SDGs