PwC @ Rio+20

Sustainability pulse poll: Citizens insights

Both citizens and CEOs call for decisions to be made at Rio+20
But what are the gaps between CEOs and citizens?

Our online citizens’ poll reveals that the public have a broader range of concerns than CEOs but both groups want action on sustainable development. This is a real call for ambition and action in Rio. Seven out of ten CEOs and eight out of ten citizens said they would take greater action on sustainable development issue if progress is made at the conference.

Citizens show greater concern about sustainable development issues

Citizens have greater levels of concern across the range of global threats and challenges including water scarcity, energy affordability, poverty reduction and equality, while CEOs are more focused on particular issues.

On average, 88% of citizens felt that the global threats and challenges identified in the survey were important in 2012. 44% see them as very important, increasing to 59% by 2022.

The biggest issue for citizens - now and even more so in 10 years time - is resource scarcity and sustainable consumption. 51% of respondents see it as very important in 2012, rising to 69% in 2022. It is also the second greatest concern for CEOs behind affordable energy.

How important are the following issues for your business / you in 2012?

Biodiversity loss is higher up the citizens’ agenda

Citizens are much more concerned about biodiversity loss than CEOs; 43% see it as very important compared to 12% of CEOs in 2012.

It grows in importance for citizens over the decade too, with 59% citing it as very important by 2022 when it ranks third after resource scarcity and affordable energy. For CEOs, though, it remains the least important issue.

Which of these mechanisms have been effective or not effective at addressing global threats and challenges in the past?

Citizens think business leaders are the most significant influencers

93% of citizens polled felt that business leaders will have an influence on the outcome at Rio+20; 48% think they have significant influence with a further 45% suggesting some influence.

By contrast, only 16% of both CEOs and citizens felt that NGOs would have a significant influence at the conference. This is a wake up call for the NGO community.

What are your expectations of progress at Rio+20 on the following global issues and challenges?

Expectations low for Rio+20

Citizens are pessimistic about progress being made on the issues at Rio – more so than CEOs.

On average, 50% of citizens expect little or no progress compared to 45% of CEOs.

In comparison, 12% of citizens think there will be no progress made at all compared to 5% of CEOs.

How much influence do you think the following will have on the outcome of Rio+20?

Global talks must be backed by measures closer to home

Like CEOs, citizens also have more confidence in a ‘bottom up’ approach to driving change, rather than ‘top-down’ treaties and targets.

Just under half of citizens said that bottom up measures were often effective, while CEOs favoured national fiscal measure and private investment over regulation. One in four in both polls felt that global treaties were not at all effective.

Would your company / you be prepared to make more ambitious pledges to action if there was significant progress on these issues at Rio+20?

*The survey remains open until 23rd June, so we can report back on any significant change in public opinion