Climate, environment and society are changing. Values and circumstances which we considered to be constant factors seem to be ever less reliable. Together with a growing feeling of insecurity there is an increasing notion of the need for sustainable behavior. That raises numerous questions, with consumers and citizens, with government, with companies and organizations, about how to stimulate sustainable behavior and how to overcome the forces that work against it.
Therefore the iNSnet Foundation took initiative to investigate both experience and behavior connected with sustainability amongst the Dutch population. The central question was:
What is encouraging people to behave sustainably, or what is withholding them.
The survey focuses on knowledge, attitude and behavior related to the interconnected fields within sustainability. It focuses on what we know about sustainability, on how this influences our views and on how it directs our behavior.
Participants in the survey were (2006): De Kleine Aarde, MVO Nederland, NCDO, One World Nederland en Planet2025 Network (2007): ASN Bank, SenterNovem, De Kleine Aarde, Wageningen University, Province of Utrecht.
Based on the outcome of the survey the iNSnet Foundation formulates strategic recommendations for organizations to support further development of their sustainability policies.
The iNSnet Sustainability Monitor is a multi client internet panel survey, commissioned by the iNSnet Foundation and conducted by Flycatcher Internet Research, a spin off from Maastricht University.
- Two thirds of the respondents know the term sustainable development. The term is mostly being associated with clean energy and with the environment.
- Government is held responsible for, and is supposed to have the strongest influence on solving problems connected with sustainability.
- The attention for sustainable development is not considered to be exaggerated and is not looked at as a whim of fashion.
- Universities and scientific institutions are considered to be the most reliable sources for information about sustainability.
- A large majority of the respondents agree that measures have to be taken against greenhouse gasses. As a most important measure rewarding the use of renewable energy is mentioned. The use of nuclear energy faces the strongest opposition.
- More than half of the Dutch population is prepared to pay higher taxes if this will result in cleaner industries.
- Almost all respondents indicate that they are prepared to buy more sustainable products in order to help solving climate problems. Most of them however mention conditions such as products should be available at the same price and quality levels as regular products, and they should be easy to recognize as sustainable products.
- Halve of the respondents would change to more sustainable behavior in order to protect climate if they were rewarded for it.
- Image is no criterion for choosing sustainable products. The main criteria are price and health effects.
- A large majority of the respondents indicate that they would buy sustainable products if they were equally good and equally priced as regular products. They are prepared to pay more if it is clear why these products are sustainable or if they are specifically healthy.
- The most popular sustainable behavior amongst the Dutch is separating waste and saving energy at home. Least popular are green investments.
- The biggest handicaps for behaving sustainably are lack of money, lack of knowledge or lack of opportunities.
- The biggest worries for the Dutch are safety in the world, poverty and the quality of healthcare. Solving poverty in their country is considered to be most important, prohibiting GM food is seen as least important.
- Main drivers for sustainable behaviour are the weather (59%), the media (50%) and disasters (29%). Al Gore's movie is only mentioned by a minority as a driver for changing behaviour.
- Halve of the respondents behaved more sustainably over the last year. Of those, 98% state that they will continue to do so in the future.
- Lower prices for sustainable products (80%), tax benefits (56%), deposits on packaging (55%) and better availability (46%) are main drivers for increased buying of sustainable products.
- 50% more people worry about climate change than in 2006 (2007 18%). 70% less people worry about economy.(2007 2%)
- National government is the most important role model for sustainable behavior (67%), more than companies or consumers. (41 resp 37%)
- Information about sustainable behavior is best believed when coming from NGO's (62%), least when coming from producers. (18%)
- Hardly anyone compensates for CO2 (4%)
- Reported buying of sustainable products is up 20% from 2006, 75% of consumers ask for a wider choice in sustainable product availability. Environment, climate and a safe future are main drivers for buying them.
- Personal health is a major motivation for paying higher prices for sustainable products.(+8% from 2006)
- High prices are by far the major barrier for buying sustainably.
The Sustainability Monitor (DuurzaamheidMonitor) is a project of the iNSnet Foundation. All rights are reserved, republishing of the results is prohibited unless full written authorisation from the iNSnet Foundation is granted and full links to the source documents are included.
Participating organizations are: