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Research for a More Sustainable Future

The world has a new, shared set of development goals. In September, United Nations member states agreed to 17 new global development goals spanning the next 15 years. These “Global Goals” are meant to drive collaboration around extreme poverty, inequality and injustice and climate change. And many brands will likely jump in to help.

But are people around the globe aware of the U.N. and the new global goals? And how important are these 17 goals to them?

To help answer these questions, Nielsen surveyed more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries immediately prior to the adoption of the goals. We measured consumer awareness and prioritization of the goals on top of other recent work on sentiment towards sustainability at large.

Our survey found that almost half (of global consumers were familiar or very familiar with the U.N., and 27% were familiar or very familiar with the global goals.

“Achieving the Global Goals will require the awareness and engagement of citizens all around all around the world,” said Nic Covey, vice president, U.N. relationship, Nielsen. “Nielsen is proud to be working with the U.N. and other stakeholders in this space to evaluate and improve that engagement.”

The 17 goals were selected through an inclusive process that is reflected in respondent interest that spanned across the individual goals. Asked to prioritize their top three goals, though, respondents most frequently selected Peace and Justice (Goal #16), Good Health and Well-Being (Goal #3) and Good Jobs and Economic Growth (Goal #8).

“Much of the power of these goals comes from the breadth of need they are designed to address,” said Covey. “No matter what corner of this world you inhabit, there’s something in here that will matter to you.”

The Global Goals are adopted at a time when consumer interest in sustainability topics, overall, is on the rise, creating opportunity for sustainability minded brands.

“Interest and expectation in ‘doing good’ is increasing, and people are putting their money where their mouths are and demanding more sustainable products in the market place that are socially responsible and environmentally friendly,” said Grace Farraj, senior vice president, public development and sustainability, Nielsen. “More people care about conscious capitalism when it comes to their purchase decisions than ever before. And 66% of global consumers say they are willing to pay more for these products and services, especially if doing so allows them to stay true to their values, up from 55% in 2014 and 50% in 2013.”

With this growing interest in sustainability among consumers, and a new global development agenda out of the United Nations, many companies will be promoting and launching programs in support of sustainable development. In addition to giving back and improving the communities where these companies operate, Nielsen’s research shows that sustainability efforts can drive growth and cut costs while generating goodwill toward brands and products.

To learn more about The Global Goals, please visit and follow #GlobalGoals.


The Nielsen Global Survey is a series of online surveys fielded through the year. It polls more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.