90% of Indians willing to protect and restore nature, but most do not know how, finds a global survey

A recent global survey shows that nine out of 10 respondents in India were willing to protect and restore nature. Meanwhile, 70 per cent Indians are worried about the present state of nature. But they are unclear of the ways they can help tackle the issues of climate change.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: August 17th, 2021

A village in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh hit by floods. Photo: Abhishek Verma

Every seventh Indian respondent is worried about the state of nature today and every ninth Indian is willing to do more to protect and restore the environment. However, 75 per cent of Indian respondents believe nature is already ‘too damaged’ to continue meeting humans’ needs in the long-term.

These are among the key findings of a survey released today, August 17, tited ‘The Global Commons Survey: Attitudes to planetary stewardship and transformation among G20 countries’. The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a UK-based market research company, was conducted to understand attitudes to the state of the global commons and attitudes to transformation among adults across the G20 (group of twenty) countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Turkey, India.

As part of the survey, 20,000 people were interviewed across all G20 countries between April to May this year in 2021. Of these, 1,000 people were interviewed in India between the age group of 18-45. The survey was commissioned by the Global Commons Alliance with support from Earth4All and FAIRTRANS.

Also Read: Asia-Pacific region accounts for every 2 in 3 global deaths by drowning: WHO

“Some of the most striking results of the survey are the very high levels of awareness, concern and willingness to act to protect nature across so many countries including those in North America and Europe but also those in what is often called global south – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa,” Diana Liverman, member of the Earth Commission, US National Academy of Science, was quoted as saying in the press statement.

Interestingly, willingness to do more to protect nature tends to be higher in the global south. It is lower in developed countries, with 1 in 10 across Europe, North America and Japan saying they do not want to do more to protect nature, highlighted the survey.

Meanwhile, the survey found that half of the respondents of India believe if people carry on as they are, nature will still be able to meet the needs of humans in the future.

Lack of information

The survey conducted across the G20 countries found 78 per cent of Indian respondents saying that most of the things they can do to protect and restore nature are known, but they are not yet put into practice.

Most of the respondents said they understand the issues of climate change but were unclear of the ways they can help tackle it. Sixty four per cent of the Indian respondents claimed that the media in the country reported on issues of nature and climate change in ways that left them unclear about what they can do to help.

People really want to do something to protect nature, but report that they lack information and face financial constraints to what they can do, said Liverman, who is also professor at the School of Geography, Development and Environment, University of Arizona.

“The majority of people in most countries know we need to transform our energy systems, with about a third also acknowledging the need to also transform our food, value and economic systems,” the professor said. As in previous environmental attitude surveys, women and younger people are more concerned and action oriented than men,” she added.

The recent survey showed that worry about the state of nature is highest among women (62 per cent), those aged between 25-34 (60 per cent), and those educated to degree level or higher (61 per cent) globally.

Also Read: Water-related disasters dominate the globe; world population exposed to floods increased by 24% since 2000

People vs Nature

Except for China and the US, residents of other countries believe people and nature are often in opposition, found the survey. In India, 59 per cent respondents said that people and nature are often in opposition. In other words, what is good for people is often bad for nature.

Most of the respondents believe that because of human activities, the Earth is close to ‘tipping point’ in nature where climate or nature may change suddenly, or may be more difficult to stabilise in future. In India, 77 per cent respondents believe this, however, 10 per cent ‘strongly disagree’ with this, shows the survey.

Countries agree that protecting nature would take a lot of effort although this is lower in developed regions, such as the United States (59 per cent). However, 78 per cent of the Indian respondents agree that it would take a huge amount of effort for people to protect nature and make it more resilient for future generations.

Also Read: IPCC’s new report warns of increased precipitation and intense heatwaves in India; severe rise in rainfall over south India

50% Indians support prioritising jobs/profits over nature

The survey pointed out that there is lower support for prioritising jobs and profits over nature across most G20 nations. But India stood out as supporting prioritising jobs/profits over nature.

Half of the Indian respondents said that the Indian government should prioritise jobs and business profits in existing industries, even if it meant some harm to nature.

This feeling of jobs/profits over nature protection was lowest in Brazil (19 per cent), Germany (19 per cent), Japan (19 per cent), Turkey (19 per cent).

Interestingly, 77 per cent of the Indian respondents also said that the way a country’s economy worked should prioritise the health and wellbeing of its people and nature rather than focusing solely on profit and increasing wealth.

There is broad consensus across the G20 countries around empowering local communities and international organisations when protecting and restoring nature. Almost every eight in 10 (77 per cent) Indian respondents said that decisions about nature that affect communities must involve the communities such as regions, cities, towns/villages, they will affect.

Also Read: Extreme weather events linked to climate change increase vulnerabilities of migrant workers in Indian cities: Study

Immediate concern COVID19 pandemic

The survey also pointed out that the Indian respondents believed that right now was not the time to be talking about restoring nature. The survey found 56 per cent of Indian respondents saying they had enough to worry about the COVID19, hence restoring nature was not the priority. Interestingly, only 26 per cent of the respondents ‘strongly disagree’ with this.

The survey also shows that 79 per cent of Indian respondents believe the COVID19 pandemic is a unique moment to transform societies to be able to better deal with ‘shocks’ such as pandemics and other extreme events in future.