In light of the recent global debate on the morality of mass surveillance programmes, GlobeScan has teamed up with the BBC World Service to ask over 17,000 people what their perspectives are on freedom and the right to privacy. In previous blog posts, we have used this data to show that Peru, Australia and Canada represent the freest democratic states (as indicated by our Perceived Freedom Index), and that an individual’s sense of freedom is not determined by socioeconomic or demographic variables such as social class or gender, but rather by national political structure. We have also shown that perceived freedom of the media has dramatically declined since 2007 (59% to 40%). In this post, we explore another dimension that is related to the right to freedom of speech.
The right to free speech originally appeared in the first amendment of the United States Constitution in 1791. This sentiment, which has become a key dimension on which the efficacy of democratic governance is measured, has been echoed in the drafting of constitutional law for centuries since. In the fallout of the Second World War, member states of the United Nations included free speech as a central component of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian equivalent, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982.
Data from the BBC World Service poll suggests that across the 17 surveyed countries, 75% of respondents report feeling free to discuss any issue in public. This finding suggests that the governance structures of these countries are generally ensuring that their citizens are able to speak freely. Further analyses reveal however, that this sense of freedom seems to be intimately tied to the degree to which an individual trusts their national government. Citizens that trust their government tend to feel liberated to speak their mind. Those who do not trust their government on the other hand, tend not to feel as liberated.
Social science literature suggests that institutional trust reflects the expectation of the institution to perform in a way that benefits society. Trust in national government is therefore the consequence (rather than the cause) of the government’s performance in the eyes of its citizens. Data from our 2014 GlobeScan Radar, a global research programme that tracks business and societal issues, shows a decline in citizen’s trust in national government since 2013 (see chart below).
But fret not for those who do not trust their government, as our analyses also show that the internet provides this group with the opportunity to engage in free speech. Differences between those with low levels of trust in their national government and those with high levels of trust disappear when self-expression is considered within the context of the internet. This data can be seen in the interactive chart below.
The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) legislation and the recent Edward Snowden revelations of mass surveillance have sparked a public debate over net neutrality and freedom of speech. With perceptions of free speech linked to governmental trust, and with this trust tenuous, it seems even more imperative that we work to secure the Internet as a space where citizens feel they can speak freely.
How did we lose the room? This is the question facing the sustainability community as GlobeScan’s latest Radar data shows a decline in how serious the global public considers environmental issues to be. With ample scientific evidence to the contrary (see the latest IPCC report), how do we explain the decreasing public concern in environmental issues? And, on World Environment Day 2014, what does this mean for organisations trying to make headway on sustainability?
GlobeScan’s recent Radar public opinion survey asked people across 22 countries about the seriousness of a number of environmental issues including water pollution, resource depletion, air pollution, water shortages, biodiversity and climate change. We created the GlobeScan Environmental Perception Index to track views of these issues in the aggregate (see chart above). While there has been significant volatility in public perception across the 10 countries tracked, the proportion of respondents in 2014 citing these environmental issues as “very serious” is at its lowest level since we began asking this question in 1998.
One possible explanation for the decline in environmental concern is that many of the issues remain intangible or out of sight for the general public. For many people, tangible consequences have still yet to materialize. Climate change and depletion of natural resources are long term issues that often don’t affect people on a day-to-day basis. This short sightedness in turn produces a tendency for people to inappropriately discount the effect of their current behavior on future outcomes, a cognitive bias coined by behavioural economists as “future discounting”. In a nutshell, negative discussion about looming environmental issues has turned off the public.
It is important to note that where problems are more visible and more real to people, such as increasing air pollution in China, we do see pockets of rising concern (from 50% “very serious” in 2013, to 57% in 2014).
The results also show that there was a relative spike in overall concern in 2013. While high profile events such as Hurricane Sandy and high profile attention by the likes of Barack Obama could go some way to explaining a brief peak, it also highlights how variable public opinion on these topics is.
So what does this declining and fluctuating concern mean for business and organisations trying to navigate in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world?
The challenge for business, particularly companies seeking recognised leadership, is to better engage the public around sustainability and make it both relevant and desirable. Companies gaining traction include Coca Cola with its Me, We, World strategy, Unilever’s Project Sunlight, with over 90 million acts of sunlight pledged so far, and Disney’s Be Inspired, making sustainability personal. Natura taps into concern in Brazil around natural resource depletion (87% consider it “very serious” in 2014) with its Ekos range using traditional, natural ingredients and working with local communities to make this both relevant and desirable for its audience. And note Ford and Cadillac, which took contrasting approaches to advertising alternative fuel vehicles, targeting two very different sets of consumers in the process. All of these appeal to an important new consumer segment, the Aspirationals, and nowhere in their discourse is negative messaging about environmental problems.
If sustainability leaders want to regain the room, and re-engage the public in environmental issues, then we need to sell sustainable solutions as relevant, positive and desirable. Doom and gloom has only taken us so far; we need to try a more optimistic and empowering approach.
In public debates over environmental, economic and social issues around the world, some of the most important voices have yet to be heard: the voices of our youth. For over a century, Boys and Girls Clubs have been helping young Canadians discover, develop and achieve their best potential as they grow to become the nation’s adults, citizens and leaders. In 2013, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC) and GlobeScan joined forces to better understand global issues of concern to young Canadians, and what differences the future generation would make if given the chance.
This initiative, called “The World According to Us”, was an astounding success. Of the 3,000 Canadian children and youth surveyed, the environment (45%), violence, crime and war (35%), and the economy (32%) emerged as the top issues of concern.
The youngest cohort surveyed (between the ages of 8 and 12) believe that the environment is the most important issue facing the global society and said global warming and pollution worry them the most. When asked how they would solve these challenges, the children reported that they would raise awareness of the effect of global warming and pollution on people's and the planet’s well-being. They would raise awareness about the importance of green living; start initiatives that promote a reduction in both waste and pollution; institute new policies that align with environmental initiatives (e.g., Kyoto); enforce monetary penalties for corporate pollution; and re-invest capital toward renewable and alternative energy sources.
The middle cohort, between the ages of 13 and 17, believes the most pressing issue facing our global society is violence and war. When asked what measures they would take to stop war, Canadian teenagers said that providing help and guidance to those at risk of waging war, working together with other nations to find peaceful solutions, and implementing a stronger police presence in areas at risk for war will prevent and/or reduce the number of wars waged in this world.
The oldest cohort (between the ages of 18 and 24) is poised to become the nation’s leaders. This group believes that the strength of the economy is the most important issue facing our world, specifically with regards to the effect on poverty and unemployment. To tackle poverty, young adults believe in a more balanced distribution of wealth and that more effort should be allocated toward sharing resources between the rich and the poor. Young adults also believe that the government should invest in social security and job creation, that programs should be created to provide help and guidance to those affected by poverty and students should be educated about the social and economic effects of poverty in the classroom (see below chart). To tackle the unemployment rate, young adults believe that the government should modify public policy to encourage older workers to retire.
Findings from the survey also reveal that young Canadians who believe adults listen to their worries are more excited for the future believe they can make a difference in the world. These youth are inspired to help solve the problems facing the next generation.
International Youth Day was created by the United Nations to raise awareness of the issues that affect young people around the world. This year, be sure to let the youth in your life know that they are heard and that they can help make our tomorrow a better future for all of us.
In celebration of today's World Humanitarian Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked us to reflect on the following question: What do you think the world needs more of?
Many people hoped that the end of the Cold War in 1991 would bring about global peace and prosperity. Yet the world does not look like a better and safer place today than it did twenty years ago.
Looking at current events, naming one thing that the world needs more of appears easier said than done. Every day, the media reports on crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed because of political, religious, racial or gender affiliations. We hear of economic and financial downturns and people living below the poverty line. We hear of deaths resulting from starvation, lack of drinkable water or proper sanitation. We hear of pandemics, resource depletion, floods and droughts.
In that context, what does the world need more of?
In our most recent wave of societal research via GlobeScan Radar, we asked respondents across 24 countries to assess how serious they thought given challenges were for the world. At the top of the list were crime and violence, with 65 percent of the global public considering them as very serious challenges. These were closely followed by unemployment (60%), rising cost of food / energy (59%), poverty / homelessness (58%) and economic problems (55%) – see chart below.
The majority of these challenges are interrelated. Economic problems impact on job security and inflation, all of which affect poverty and homelessness.
These results highlight a growing feeling of insecurity and vulnerability amongst the general public, whether physical or material. They also pinpoint a general worry about the uncertainty of the future.
Interestingly, of all the challenges that the public was asked about, respect for human rights and inequality (economic and gender) are amongst the lowest percentages of very serious responses. It appears that what respondents consider as the biggest challenges to society are the problems that most often directly affect themselves or the people around them.
Likewise, when asked what they considered to be the most important problem facing their country today (see chart below), 17 percent of respondents said that unemployment is the most important issue, followed by economic problems (16%). Although poverty and crime rank comparatively lower, with only six and five percent of respondents respectively assessing them as the most important problem that their nation has to tackle, they remain in the top five most mentioned issues.
Similarly to human rights and discrimination at the global level it seems that, while remaining perceived as important problems, poverty and crime are trumped at the national level by what most impacts the everyday lives of respondents.
Politics, environment and security also rank in the top five first mentions, further highlighting the diversity of the problems that nations are facing and simultaneously the plethora of needs that people have.
Even when looking only at the most mentioned important societal challenges and national concerns, it is clear that there are many issues that global citizens perceive as threatening or lacking. People need physical security. They need job security. They need economic security, and they need food and water security
Therefore, to give just one answer to Ban Ki-moon’s question, I would say that what the world needs more of can be summarized in two words: human security. That is, the ability for people to live their lives free from fear and secure in the knowledge that their basic needs are being met.
Today, companies find themselves navigating an increasingly challenging world that has been described as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. In this challenging context, it is becoming critical for organizations to correctly understand the sentiments of the public – sentiments that can be both ambiguous and easily misread. Our GlobeScan Radar program of evidence and counsel draws upon our database of over fifteen years of tracking of global (20-30 countries) citizen perceptions around business and its role in society.
GlobeScan Radar helps equip corporate leaders to better understand the social context in which companies operate across geographies, for example see GlobeScan's Sector Intelligence Reports. The infographic below provides some examples of the insight that GlobeScan Radar provides. Our latest results show perceived vulnerability around issues of crime and violence, as well as economic issues like unemployment, high cost of food and energy, and poverty. Majorities in a number of countries perceive various environmental issues as “very serious,” although the perceived seriousness of climate change along with other issues is in decline. High environmental concern also translates to environmentally conscious consumerism in many key markets.
GlobeScan believes in the value of knowledge sharing, so we encourage you to share these findings with your colleagues, let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or contact us with any questions you may have.
I was delighted to attend the Start Network’s annual conference Start for Change. During the event, we announced a new partnership between Start Network and GlobeScan, aiming to make progress toward the creation of a global humanitarian aid movement and to make strides toward enhanced engagement with stakeholders.
The Start Network focusses on collaboration within the humanitarian aid system across three areas:
It struck me during the day how crucial the key tenet of collaboration really is here, underpinning progress across all three areas. As Doug Miller, President of GlobeScan Foundation, summed up in his closing remarks, accountability, advocacy, cooperation, and redefining engagement are crucial aspects for the humanitarian sector to focus on, at a time when levels of trust and hope amongst the global public are precariously low. Start Network itself is a huge step in the right direction – collaboration among NGO actors with the same overarching goals and with the ultimate aim of improving access to aid for those who need it most. Few could scoff at that objective.
The first step is for humanitarian organisations themselves to work together where their goals align in order to move the sector forward. The second, even bolder step is to look beyond the traditional humanitarian system, toward a “whole of society approach,” a more decentralised and locally democratic approach which listens and empowers beneficiaries across the world. This was a recurring theme throughout the day.
For this to happen we will need to see significant shifts in terms of partnership models and engagement methods. One element to this is collaboration with non-traditional stakeholders such as the private sector, already operating on the ground worldwide. As Chair David Alexander humorously put it, perhaps it’s time for humanitarian NGOs to move away from seeing the corporate sector as “the devil incarnate” and to take learnings from the sector’s collaboration with governments, which is often perceived as a necessary step to effective action locally.
Indeed, in this year’s GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey on leadership, the ability to collaborate is identified as the most important attribute of leadership for NGOs. Verbatim responses to the survey reveal a strong sense amongst sustainable development experts that it is by working together that we will meet shared goals and make real progress.
A personal reflection on the private sector’s collaboration with the humanitarian system was given by Clare Bebbington, Group Head of External Affairs at Petrofac and one of the few corporate delegates in the room. Clare was right to advocate for improved mutual understanding, while cautioning about the risks of partnerships without this basis of appreciation and preparation. As Clare highlighted, while NGO-corporate partnerships for development are increasingly commonplace, there are remarkably few examples of successful humanitarian collaboration. A GlobeScan/SigWatch webinar last week also identified some of the challenges of NGO-company collaboration. Shared understanding of mutual objectives is crucial.
If we want to see more effective partnerships among actors, we need to start proactively asking each other what shared objectives we are trying to achieve, how we can support each other to meet these goals, and to learn from recent examples of collaboration, successful or otherwise. This would be one step on the journey toward a more holistic and locally devolved humanitarian system.
LONDON - Just over one in two citizens (52%) across 17 countries polled for the BBC World Service disagree that “the Internet is a safe place to express my opinions,” outnumbering the 40 per cent who agree it is safe.
The poll, conducted by GlobeScan among over 17,000 people worldwide between December 2013 and February 2014 is being released as part of Freedom Live—a day of broadcasts on the World Service’s 27 language services exploring stories about freedom from around the world.
While one-in-two judge the Internet an unsafe place for expressing opinions, two-thirds (67%) say the Internet brings them greater freedom, with only 25 per cent disagreeing.
One in three citizens (36%) across the 17 countries say they do not feel free from government surveillance and monitoring, making this the worst rated of five freedoms examined in the poll. Majorities of Americans (54%) and Germans (51%) do not feel free from government surveillance, while in contrast, strong majorities feel free of surveillance in countries such as China (where 76% say they feel free of surveillance), Indonesia (69%) and Russia (61%).
Media freedom was also given low ratings. Across eight countries surveyed in 2007 and 2014, the percentage of people who feel that the media in their country is “free to report the news accurately, truthfully and without undue bias” has dropped by nearly one third over the last seven years, from 59 per cent to 40 per cent. The biggest falls occurred in Kenya (down 37 points), India (down 23 points) and Russia (down 20 points). In the UK and the USA, only a minority of respondents now feel that the media in their countries is free, compared to majorities in 2007.
As for other freedoms, strong majorities across the full 17 countries surveyed consider they have a high level of freedom when it comes to “practicing the religion of their choice” (87%), to “marry or live with the person of their choosing” (86%), and to “speak about any issue publicly” (75%).
The results are drawn from a telephone and in-person survey of 17,589 adult citizens across 17 countries. It was conducted for the BBC World Service between December 2013 and February 2014 by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its national partners. Within-country results are considered accurate within +/- 2.9 to 4.9 per cent 19 times out of 20.
GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller commented: “The poll suggests that two of the underpinnings of modern democracies are at risk—a media seen as free and fair; and an Internet safe for the free expression of views.
The results also suggest that many of the personal freedoms that Western democracies have championed in the world are actually fairly well established in the minds of citizens across these particular 17 countries. Ironically, it is in some of these very democracies where citizens give relatively poor ratings of some freedoms.”
On average across the 17 countries, the poll finds that those who feel “the Internet is a safe place to express my opinions” (40%) are outnumbered by those who disagree it is safe (52%). France is among the countries where respondents do not feel they can express their opinions safely online (76%), alongside South Korea (72%), Spain (66%), Canada, the USA, and Germany (65% each). Only six surveyed countries have majorities that feel they can express their opinions online safely: Nigeria (71%), India (67%), Indonesia (57%), Kenya (52%), Pakistan and Peru (both 51%).
At the same time, two-thirds of respondents (67%) say the Internet brings them greater freedom, with the most enthused respondents being in Africa (81% in Nigeria and 78% in Kenya), followed by Australians (77%), Britons (76%), Indonesians (73%), Canadians and Americans (both 72%). In contrast, people in China do not report a strong sense of increased freedom from using the Internet, with a narrow majority agreeing with the statement and 45 per cent disagreeing with it.
Across the 17 countries surveyed, an average of 60 per cent say they feel free from government surveillance in their country as opposed to the 36 per cent who report not being free. Unlike the USA and Germany, all other surveyed countries have majorities who consider themselves free from government monitoring programmes. In China, 76 per cent say they feel free from government monitoring—the highest proportion in the survey. Other countries with strong majorities feeling their privacy is respected include Australia (72%), Indonesia (69%), Canada (64%), Nigeria (63%), Peru (62%), Russia, Pakistan, and the UK (61% each).
On average, only 40 per cent believe that the press and media in their country are free to report the news accurately, truthfully and without undue bias. Just above a quarter (27%) have the opposite opinion, and the views of 28 per cent are mixed (neither free nor not free).Respondents from emerging economies tend to believe in the freedom of their national media, with Indonesians by far the most likely (73%), followed by Peruvians (51%) and strong pluralities of opinions in Africa (Nigeria, 49%; Kenya, 44%), India (49%) and China (47%)—although in China this perception is counter-balanced by an almost equal proportion of neutral opinions (44%). Conversely, South Korea stands out with seven in ten (69%) saying the media in South Korea is not free, followed by strong pluralities in Spain (46%) and France (40%).
Among eight tracking countries surveyed on media freedom in both 2007 and 2014, perceived freedom of the media has plummeted, dropping from 59 per cent in 2007 to 40 per cent in 2014. The biggest drops occurred in Kenya (down 37 points), India (down 23 points), and Russia (down 20 points). In the UK and USA, the percentage thinking their media is free has dropped over the seven years from majorities to minorities (56% to 45%, and 53% to 42%, respectively).
A total of 17,589 citizens across 17 countries were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone between December 2013 and end of February 2014. Countries polled included: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the USA. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In three of the countries (China, Indonesia, Kenya), the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 2.9 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
For full methodology, question wording, and detailed results, including region-by-region data for all key questions, please see the drop-down links at the bottom of this article.
BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster, delivering a wide range of language and regional services on radio, TV, online and via wireless handheld devices. It uses multiple platforms to reach its weekly audience of 166 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. BBC World Service offers its multilingual radio content to partner FM stations around the world and has numerous partnerships supplying content to news websites, mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices as well as TV channels. For more information, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice
NEW YORK - A new study by the GlobeScan Foundation and MPOWERD demonstrates the significant improvements in quality of life that solar lights can deliver for rural Haitian families. The research was conducted to evaluate and measure the impact of MPOWERD’s Luci inflatable solar lantern on economically disadvantaged families living in rural Haiti.
According to the report (download here), 98% of Haitians who received a Luci inflatable solar lantern reported that the lantern replaced the need for kerosene-based lighting in their homes. For these families, eliminating their reliance on this toxic fuel freed up income to purchase valuable goods and reduced the reported level of pollution within their homes with more than 90% of families citing a decline in both breathing problems and eye irritation.
The study revealed that Luci solar lanterns also made Haitians feel more secure. In addition to feeling safe while walking around their homes in the evenings, more than 90% of respondents reported fewer fire hazards, burns and incidences of theft during the evening hours.
According to the report, Luci solar lights also promoted healthy living and enhanced productivity for all members of the family. Of the surveyed families, more than 80% of adults reported being able to complete more work and reading during the evening hours relative to life before Luci. This enhanced productivity was also beneficial for children with 94% of families reporting a boost in grades at school.
In July of 2013, MPOWERD partnered with the NGO Soleil Global to distribute Luci solar lights to hundreds of Haitians in an effort to replace the kerosene lamps typically used to light their homes. A survey of more than 100 recipients, developed by GlobeScan, was administered both at the point of distribution and again four months later to assess the impact of the Luci solar light on a range of quality of life issues.
Doug Miller, President of the GlobeScan Foundation, said, "It is clear from this research that the Luci solar lights initiative has significantly improved the quality of life of recipient households in Haiti." He added, "My colleagues and I have been honored to apply our social science expertise to help MPOWERD evaluate this excellent initiative."
"The genesis of MPOWERD and our double bottom line orientation was based on our expectation that the benefits for end users would be significant and could be qualified – especially in the most rural, technologically lagging parts of the world,” said Jacques-Philippe Piverger, CEO and Co-Founder of MPOWERD. “We knew deep down that the impact was real, so it was a great privilege to partner with GlobeScan to substantiate our beliefs quantitatively by demonstrating the positive impact of Luci on those living in energy poverty."
Luci lights were developed with the aim to eradicate Energy Poverty through Solar Justice. The collaboration between MPOWERD and GlobeScan demonstrated that Luci solar lanterns do indeed positively impact the lives of Haiti’s poor. As a 20 year old surveyed male from the town of Mirebalais said, “Life is better with Luci.”
MPOWERD Inc., headquartered in New York City, develops and manufactures brilliant, transformative clean energy products and solutions to light up and empower the lives of those living and playing off-the-grid the world over. As a Benefit Corporation, MPOWERD strives to eradicate Energy Poverty through Solar Justice. www.mpowerd.com
LONDON - A majority of citizens (59%) in a 12-country public opinion poll believe “the social, environmental and economic challenges the world faces today are more difficult than the ones we have faced in human history.” Only one in four (25%) believe our challenges are less difficult.
In spite of this, a similar majority (63%) believe that “humanity will find a way to overcome our current challenges.” However, almost a third of citizens (31%) think it is “very or somewhat unlikely” that we will be successful.
These are the key findings from the first Hope Index Poll of 12,000 citizens conducted by the GlobeScan Foundation and its national research partners in Kenya, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
Other findings of the GlobeScan Foundation poll include:
The first-annual GlobeScan Foundation Poll of over 12,000 people worldwide was conducted between December 2013 and March 2014 by GlobeScan and its research partners to random samples of citizens in each country. Country results are based on mainly face-to-face interviewing and are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.(Please see page 7 for detailed methodology by country.)
GlobeScan Foundation president Doug Miller commented, “The good news is that only three in ten citizens across the 12 countries polled are pessimistic about Humanity’s future even given the perceived magnitude of our challenges. But majorities do not like the direction the world is headed in.”
He added, “As a pollster, I’m concerned that hopelessness, if it increases further, might hold society back and become a self-fulfilling prophesy. The GlobeScan Foundation intends to further develop and track the Hope Index across more countries in order to keep monitoring this important social indicator.”
Using the answers to 12 key questions posed in the survey, GlobeScan’s experts developed a Hope Index to rate countries and groups of individuals as to their degree of hope or hopelessness.
The following chart, aggregating the weight of opinion across the 12 questions in the survey, shows that Indonesia and Kenya score highest on the Hope Index and the US and UK score lowest among surveyed countries.
The GlobeScan Foundation’s full 30-page Hope Index report, including full methodology and detailed country findings, can be downloaded here.