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360. Public Opinion Survey on the Need to Protect the Global Commons

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Commons refers to areas of common use of resources such as grasslands, forests, pastures, and fishing grounds. In recent years, as anthropogenic economic activities have caused irreversible crises such as global climate change and environmental destruction, the need for rules and consensus building for sustainable use, management and maintenance of the global commons has been recognized.

In August 2021, the Global Commons Alliance, in collaboration with IPSOS Mori, a UK-based market research firm, released the results of a public opinion survey on the current perception of global commons in G20 countries. Here are some of the interesting findings from the report's summary.

  • 73% believe that the earth is reaching a tipping point (note: a phenomenon in which changes in greenhouse gases and other factors gradually accumulate to cause dramatic changes at a certain point in time) with large-scale changes that are gradually becoming irreversible due to human activities (Japan, 63%).
  • 58% are concerned about the current state of the global commons (Japan, 44%).
  • 83% are willing to be better stewards of the earth and work to preserve and restore the global commons. People in developing countries tend to be more willing: Indonesia (95%), South Africa (94%) and China (93%), compared to Japan (61%), Germany (70%) and the United States (74%).
  • 73% agree that the economy should go beyond profit and growth, and to also consider the welfare of humanity and ecological protection and regeneration (Japan, 61%).
  • 69% believe that the benefits of protecting the global commons outweigh the costs (Japan, 53%).
  • 59% approve of a rapid transition to clean energy in the next decade, but only 8% approve of the need for more widespread economic transformation in the next decade (Japan, 53%).
  • 71% agree that the recovery from the pandemic presents an opportunity to build a society more resilient to future shocks.

The report concludes that these results may have reaffirmed for political leaders the need for action to preserve the global commons. Although the report does not provide full country-by-country figures for all the questions, for the items mentioned, Japanese public awareness and consciousness of the global commons seems to be lower than that of other G20 countries. In order to respond to global issues, countries need to take action through public opinion, and the media and information play an extremely very important role in shaping public opinion for that purpose.

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)