How much do Brits know about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
October 01, 2020, 9:20 AM UTC

Most Brits are unfamiliar with the UN targets for the future – but climate change is the most important goal among those who are familiar with them

A new YouGov Profiles study looks at awareness of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of targets designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all" – among the British public.

In 2015 all UN member states adopted the SDGs as part of unified plan to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace by 2030.

But YouGov data reveals that five years on the majority of Brits (56%) are not at all aware of the targets. Just over a quarter (27%) have heard of them, but are unfamiliar with they involve.

Only 6% of British adults say they are fully aware of the SDGs and know a lot about them. But which goals are most important among this informed minority?

When asked to pick the single most important SDG to them personally, 13% of those aware of this informed group pointed to action on climate change (13%). Another 13% said the priority goal for them was ending poverty throughout the world.

One in nine (9%) said that combating world hunger was the most important SDG to them, followed by 10% who said improving health and wellbeing in general.

Clean water and sanitation are important to 9% who are aware of the SDGs, while 5% said ensuring good education for all was the most important.

Whose job is it to make sure the SDGs are met however? A plurality (the largest group but one that is not a majority) of those with knowledge of the SDGs (44%) say it’s down to MPs and the Government.

One in six (17%) say that it is the responsibility of the public at large to ensure the goals are met, with the same amount saying its down to international organisations to take responsibility.

Learn more about YouGov Profiles here