Strong Public Support for Government Action to Protect Nature, Even if it Restricts Business Activity
Attitudes Toward Nature, “Strongly Agree” and “Somewhat Agree,” Average of 27 Markets, 2020
Out of the 27 countries surveyed an overwhelming percentage (up to 92%) want governments to take stronger action to protect nature, even if it means restricting business activities. On World Conservation Day it is important to highlight the public’s desire for governments to act now.
This is especially the case in developing countries with those in Kenya, Mexico and Vietnam agreeing the most that governments should take strong action. People in Japan agree the least (although still over 50%).
Circular Economy, Food Systems, and Biodiversity Are Key Focus Areas for the EU Green Deal
Priority vs Progress, Expert Stakeholders, 2021
Stakeholders rated a range of sustainability issues on two dimensions – level of priority and progress made. Two issues – clean energy and climate – are areas where priorities and progress are both viewed as being strong.
Circularity, food systems, and nature are all issues where priorities are high, but where progress is seen to be weak. These areas require more urgent action if the European Green Deal is to be realized, as each represents a fundamental role in the transition toward a more sustainable Europe.
Question wording: For each of the following possible global problems, please indicate if you see it as a very serious, somewhat serious, not very serious or not at all serious problem.
Strong Support for Government Efforts to Reduce Future Pandemics through Ending Deforestation
Consumers in China, Myanmar, Thailand, the U.S., and Vietnam, 2021
As human activities such as deforestation increase the risk of disease transfer between animals and humans, an overwhelming majority of people in China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the U.S. support government action to curb this destructive practice.
Identifying and capitalizing on public support for measures helps drive policy change. Given the strong support for preserving forests, there is an opportunity to mobilize change for more sustainable practices.
Question wording: If your country increased efforts to preserve forests and end deforestation in your country or overseas specifically to pr event future pandemics while also reducing activities that lead to deforestation, would you support such initiatives?
24 May 2021 – As the World Health Assembly opens today against a backdrop of continued suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 30% of people surveyed across China, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and the United States say they have consumed less or stopped consuming wildlife altogether because of the health crisis.
More specifically, 28% among those surveyed in China consume less wildlife or have stopped consuming wildlife because of COVID-19, with numbers nearly doubling in Thailand (21% in 2020 to 41% in 2021) and remaining stable in Viet Nam (41% in 2020 to 39% in 2021). There remains a committed contingent of wildlife consumers, however, with 9% of participants intent on buying wildlife products in the future in all five countries.
The figures come as part of a survey conducted for WWF by GlobeScan and published today in a new report titled, ‘COVID-19: One Year Later: Public Perceptions about Pandemics and their Links to Nature’. It builds on an initial study a year ago to deepen understanding of public attitudes and behaviours about addressing future pandemics. With the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent investigation pointing to wildlife as a likely source of the pandemic, this year’s survey discovered that support is strong in all five countries to back government efforts to close high-risk markets selling wildlife (85%) and stop deforestation (88%), as root drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks.
More than a year after the COVID-19 outbreak, the data shows that there is a strong understanding that risky human-animal interaction, often connected to deforestation and high-risk wildlife trade, can lead to serious disease outbreaks, with 46% of all participants listing disease transmission from animals to humans as the root cause most likely to trigger future pandemics.
The majority of those surveyed believe that preventing future pandemics begins with addressing root causes, including high-risk wildlife trade and deforestation. More than four out of five people surveyed support government action to tackle these threats, and in the event where no measures are taken to close high-risk wildlife markets, 79% of all the participants in the five countries say they would be extremely worried or very worried about a similar outbreak.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the impacts of human activity on nature tragically close to our homes and families, and people are increasingly concerned and urging action: addressing the key drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks and taking a One Health approach has to be part of our collective global pandemic prevention strategy,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International. “The only way to prevent future pandemics is by reducing destructive human activities that drive the loss of nature – such as deforestation, unsustainable wildlife trade and risky wildlife consumption – rather than reacting to outbreaks after they have emerged. Prevention of pandemics is estimated to cost 100 times less than responding to them. The pandemic has made it blatantly clear that investing in planetary health and nature is the only way to avoid paying such a terrible social and economic price again in the future with scientists being very clear that unless we rebalance our relationship with nature, the question would be ‘when’ a next pandemic will strike, not ‘if’.”
Key drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks include wildlife farming, land-use change leading to deforestation, and high-risk wildlife trade, which can all facilitate easier spread of diseases like COVID-19, SARS, MERS and Ebola by putting wild animals in closer proximity to people and domestic animals.
The Chinese government announced a broad ban on the consumption of wild animals in February 2020, and the survey found that in China, closing high-risk wildlife markets is seen as the most effective measure to prevent pandemics (91%). In Viet Nam, where the Prime Minister also announced actions against the illegal wildlife trade last year, 84% of participants agree that closing high-risk wildlife markets is crucial.
WWF’s Preventing Future Pandemics advocacy action calls on government entities to adopt a One Health approach to high-risk wildlife trade and deforestation.
The conservation organisation is also calling on decision makers to include interventions needed to address key drivers of zoonotic disease outbreaks in their pandemic prevention plans. Halting deforestation and closing risky wildlife markets, for example, will help recover wildlife populations and maintain local and global biodiversity that naturally help regulate disease, as well as help ensure sustainable use of natural resources.
This online survey of those aged 18+ was conducted in five countries between February 4th and March 18th, 2021. This timing was chosen to coincide with the 2020 survey, which was conducted between March 6th and 11th, 2020. Sample sizes: US (2,000), China (2,000), Viet Nam (1,000), Thailand (1,000) and Myanmar (631). Because of political unrest in Myanmar, research in this country was cut short.
About One Health
When the “One Health” approach was explained to participants in the GlobeScan survey, 85% said they strongly support or support such an approach to combating pandemics.
‘One Health’ is defined by WHO as an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes. It brings together the expertise across public health, animal health, plant health and the environment. It is endorsed by multiple international and national organizations including World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations System Influenza Coordination, the World Bank, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others.
WWF is an independent conservation organisation, with over 35 million supporters and a global network active through local leadership in nearly 100 countries. Our mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources, and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media
People in Most Countries Say Their Governments Are Doing a Poor Job of Protecting Nature and Wildlife
Performance of National Government on Protecting Nature and Wildlife, Net Performance,* by Country, 2020
National governments are widely seen as being poor performers when it comes to protecting the natural world.
Out of 27 countries and territories surveyed, only those in Asia and Saudi Arabia rate government mostly positively.
Saudi Arabian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian respondents rate their governments positively on protecting nature and wildlife.
People in France, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Spain, and Brazil are highly critical of their governments’ efforts.
The dramatic differences in perspectives across countries will make negotiations challenging at the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference, with relatively little public pressure on Asian governments to commit to an ambitious agenda.
Question wording: Please rate the performance of each of the following actors in protecting nature and wildlife: Our national government.
On May 24, WWF and GlobeScan released the results of the most comprehensive research to date in the US and Asia on public understanding and perceptions about pandemics and their connection to wildlife trade and deforestation.
Given COVID-19’s origin as a zoonotic disease – one that spreads from animals to humans – people’s perceptions and behavior around the purchase of wild animals as food, pets and luxury items are of particular interest to monitor during this time.
In early 2021, WWF and GlobeScan conducted an indepth follow-up study to one conducted in 2020 to assess understanding about wildlife consumption as the root cause of the pandemic. This study looks at five countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. We also delved into perceptions regarding what needs to be done to prevent future pandemics, and we looked at the public’s understanding of other root causes, including deforestation. We wanted to understand whether consumers in deeply affected countries are supportive of government action to prevent zoonotic outbreaks at the source.
On 27 May 2021, we hosted the launch webinar with the following panelists who shared their valuable insight:
Significant Drop in Ivory Consumption Shows Potency of Governmental Action and Social Marketing
Ivory Purchase in Past 12 Months, Chinese Consumers, 2017–2020
The ivory ban implemented in 2018 led to a significant drop in ivory purchase in China, which declined 17 percentage points from 2017. In the past year, just 12 percent of Chinese consumers claim to have purchased ivory. These latest declines are likely the result of effective public campaigns to end ivory purchases.
This example highlights the impact regulation can have on driving responsible consumer choices and the importance of ongoing engagement.
Identifying drivers of ivory purchase is crucial for continued demand reduction and helps inform messaging to further reduce ivory purchasing in China – a critical part of the strategy to protect elephants in Africa.
Question wording: Have you bought ivory, or any product or object made of ivory, for yourself or someone else, in the past 12 months?
A new report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and GlobeScan identifies the challenges to the European Green Deal’s implementation and provides policy recommendations for addressing them.
The European Green Deal Barometer, launched on Thursday 29 April at an online conference, builds on the Think2030 survey, an expert consultation of nearly 300 sustainability experts from governments and regulators, NGOs, academia, research institutes and the private sector.
33% of respondents see the lack of commitment by the Member States as the biggest barrier to the Green Deal implementation, followed by inadequate governance mechanisms (25% of respondents) and unequal progress across the EU Member States (24% of respondents).
38% of respondents see promoting low-carbon, circular supply chains in key emitting sectors as the most positive opportunity provided by the Green Deal, followed by increased investment and accountability from the private sector in the green transition (28% of respondents).
37% of respondents see the greatest amount of progress made in ‘increasing the EU’s climate ambition for 2030 and 2050’, followed by ‘supplying clean, affordable, and secure energy’ (24% of respondents).
Only 13% say that adequate progress has been made on preserving and restoring biodiversity; and 14% on sustainable and healthy agriculture.
Top three policy recommendations:
Ensure that the award and use of EU recovery funds are focused on low-carbon and environmental projects.
Mainstream a circular economy approach in the EU industrial strategy.
Align the post 2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform with the ‘farm to fork’ strategy and boost investment in nature based solutions.
Céline Charveriat, Executive Director of IEEP and the main author of the report, said:
“Member States are the cornerstone of the Green Deal implementation. If we are to act in line with science and remain within the planetary boundaries, they have no other choice but to be ambitious and implement the Deal. It is also important to bear in mind the indivisibility of the Green Deal. While it is encouraging to see progress on supplying clean, affordable and secure energy for all, science remains unequivocal — it will be impossible to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 if sectors like agriculture are not stepping up their efforts. Sixteen months after its announcement, the message from sustainability experts is clear: the European Green Deal is here to stay, in spite of the pandemic and beyond the mandate of the current European Commission. However, European governments must urgently raise their game, starting with greener recovery plans, while the European Commission has to focus in 2021 on the Achilles heels of the Green Deal — biodiversity and agriculture.”
“Our survey, conducted with IEEP and a host of other partners, is a valuable benchmark of stakeholder views on the European Green Deal. Nearly half of experts think the pandemic has accelerated the green transition, with greatest progress made on increasing the EU’s climate ambitions. We plan to track perceptions of progress and potential across different European Green Deal proposals to help identify where to focus efforts for the green transition.”
About the Think2030 survey
The European Green Deal Barometer report builds on the Think2030 survey, an expert consultation of nearly 300 sustainability experts (including governments and regulators, NGOs, academia, research institutes and the private sector) on the progress made in implementing the European Green Deal, and on the top issues and priorities.
The survey was launched as a follow-up to the Think2030 conference held in November 2020 by the Ecologic Institute, the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and TMG – Think Tank for Sustainability. IEEP launched the survey in partnership with GlobeScan, the European Environment Agency, AER, EEAC, CAN Europe, Ecologic Institute, CISL, WWF EPO and Climate Alliance.
This survey asked 300 European sustainability experts what they consider to be the greatest challenges and opportunities on the path towards a successful implementation of the European Green Deal.
The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and GlobeScan organised an event to mark the launch of the European Green Deal Barometer report.
Following a presentation of the findings by Céline Charveriat, Eecutive Director of IEEP, and Caroline Holme, Director at GlobeScan, an interactive panel discussion featured Diederik Samsom, Head of Cabinet to the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, and Dr. Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA).
About The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)
The Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) is a sustainability think tank with offices in London and Brussels. Working with stakeholders across EU institutions, international bodies, academia, civil society and industry, our team of economists, scientists and lawyers produce evidence based research and policy insight.
Our work spans nine research areas and covers both short term policy issues and long term strategic studies. As a not-for-profit organisation with over 40 years of experience, we are committed to advancing impact driven sustainability policy across the EU and the world. For more information about IEEP, visit www.ieep.eu or follow us on Twitter @IEEP_eu and LinkedIn.
Launched by IEEP and its partners in 2018, Think2030 is an evidence based, non partisan platform of leading policy experts from European think tanks, civil society, the private sector and local authorities.
By focusing on producing relevant, timely and concrete policy recommendations, Think2030’s key objective is to identify science policy solutions for a more sustainable Europe.
Think2030 meets every two years for a high level conference to present and discuss the outcomes of the collaborative work, including policy briefs and reports. The 2020 edition took place online and was co organised by the Ecologic Institute, IEEP and the TMG Think Tank.
This publication has benefited from the financial support of the LIFE Programme of the European Union. It reflects only the views of its authors.
Beijing, China – An annual consumer survey of the elephant ivory trade in China finds that demand for ivory continues to decrease since the country banned domestic trade in 2017 and is now less than half of pre-ban levels. Just 18 percent of consumers surveyed intend to purchase ivory in the future, a significant drop from 43 percent pre-ban.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and research organization GlobeScan, have conducted the largest consumer survey about the elephant ivory trade in China—2,000 people in 15 cities—for four consecutive years. This annual survey is the largest assessment of changes in attitudes to ivory consumption, purchasing rates and intention to purchase, as well as awareness of the Chinese ivory ban over time.
Consumers’ intention to purchase ivory in the future, both before and after being reminded about the ivory ban (19% and 8% respectively), continues to drop and is now less than half of pre-ban levels in 2017 (43%, 18%).
Self-reported purchase of ivory in the past 12 months decreased to the lowest level in 2020 since the study began in 2017, although gifting is reported to be the most popular reason that people buy ivory.
Although people’s awareness of the ivory ban in 2020 declined to the lowest level since 2017, 88 percent of those surveyed believed that the sale of ivory in China is illegal.
After remaining relatively stable at 14% of the surveyed population in 2018 and 2019, the proportion of the population defined as Diehard Buyers has decreased significantly to 8% in 2020, less than half of the pre-ban level in 2017, although the remaining “core” Diehard Buyers are even more firm in their resolve to purchase ivory. Among this group, the most compelling driver to purchase ivory is the perception of its artistic value.
Regular Overseas Travelers—those who travel outside of Mainland China more than once per year (trael was possible before the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020)— remain the only group to have increased their rate of purchasing ivory compared to 2017 levels, while having the highest level of both unprompted and prompted awareness of the ban in 2020. They also maintain their future intention to purchase ivory while most other groups’ intention have dropped steadily over years.
Although travel was greatly reduced in 2020 due to COVID-19 related restrictions, Chinese outbound travelers have continuously been identified as the group that most frequently purchased elephant ivory in the past and that has the strongest intention to buy ivory in the future compared with other groups. WWF works with the travel industry to target this key demographic with demand reduction efforts. Through the Sustainable Travel Alliance, which was established by WWF in 2020 and is endorsed by the leading travel agencies in China, WWF encourages corporate actors in the travel and tourism sector, including online and brick and mortar travel agencies and hotels, to reject the consumption of ivory and other illegal wildlife products.
“Chinese consumers have been one of the major drivers to the global ivory trade dynamics that contribute to an elephant poaching crisis across the African continent beginning around 2010, other drivers include loss of habitat and corruption in Africa and weak law enforcement in transit countries especially South East Asia,” said Zhou Fei, Chief Program Officer of WWF China. “The Chinese ivory ban is a game-changer that helps in turning the tide against the illegal ivory trade that claims thousands of elephants each year. Partners across many sectors, including China Customs, internet companies and the travel industry, have committed to a Zero Tolerance to Illegal Wildlife Trade Initiative and therefore bolstered consumer engagement efforts.”
Demand under the Ban – China Ivory Consumption Research 2020 also assessed the impact of a social media campaign which was launched in 2020. The targeted campaign, starring Chinese cultural celebrity Ma Weidu, reached 22 million people and received the highest recognition among Diehard Buyers and Regular Overseas Travelers. The survey found that the combination of information on the ivory ban and the campaign video had a strong deterrent effect on people’s intention to buy ivory in the future, changing the attitudes of 74% of those who had reported that they wanted to purchase ivory in the future.
“This research is another encouraging sign that China’s elephant ivory trade ban is being implemented and enforced effectively,” said Karen Xue, Global Director for WWF’s Ivory High Impact Initiative. “We have seen wholesale prices for ivory fall globally since 2017 and several subpopulations of savanna elephants in Africa rebound. However, we must consider the recent reclassification from the International Union of the Conservation of Nature deeming African savanna elephants and forest elephants as Endangered and Critically Endangered respectively and realize how critical a role consumer engagement and education has to play in curbing demand for ivory and reversing declining African elephant population trends.”
This study, conducted by GlobeScan, an international research consultancy, is the largest and longest-running research on China’s ivory consumption, involving a total of more than 8,000 consumers in 15 cities across China in four years. This is the fourth annual survey conducted since 2017. (see previous year’s reports here)
Implementation of this project was made possible with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
On our April 22 launch webinar, we presented and discussed why consumers buy ivory, where, what do they buy, how and which campaigns work best to change ivory consumption behavior. In this fourth study, we were particularly focused on the trends and progress over the past years.
The webinar was opened by WWF, followed by an in-depth presentation from GlobeScan to introduce background, methodology and findings of the research, with a Q&A session afterwards with guest panelists.