An Eco-wakening Measuring global awareness, engagement and action for nature

Posted on 18 May 2021

The natural world is under threat. Scientists warn that 1m species, out of an estimated total of 8m, face extinction—many within decades. This decline is putting the future of the planet and everyone on it at risk.

Time is running out, and action to prevent fatal nature loss is urgently needed.

Do people care? Given the scale of the problem, it would be easy to assume that ordinary people are turning away, not only believing that biodiversity loss is not a priority, but also that nothing can be done.

We find the opposite.

New research by The Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), shows that hundreds of millions of people all over the world are concerned, and that this number is growing.

The most dramatic growth in engagement and awareness has occurred in Asia, most notably India (190%), Pakistan (88%) and Indonesia (53%). People all over the world care about nature, and that trend is growing—especially in emerging markets. This shift in public sentiment reflects a hard reality, as people in emerging markets are most likely to experience the devastating impact of the loss of nature.

The number of nature-loss conversations has grown, as seen in the 65% increase in Twitter mentions since 2016. Nature-loss and biodiversity issues are gaining more traction online than ever before, with the number of Twitter mentions increasing most in emerging markets. Major influencers around the world—including political figures, celebrities and religious leaders—are using their platforms to amplify nature issues, with messages reaching a combined audience of almost 1bn people worldwide.

Consumers are changing their behaviour, with searches for sustainable goods increasing globally by 71% since 2016. Corporations are responding, particularly in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, fashion and food sectors.

Public demand for action is rapidly growing through protests, petitions and campaign donations. Between 2016 and 2018, global news media coverage of nature-based protests grew by a steady 7%. Between 2018 and 2019, however, coverage jumped by a whopping 103%, driven by protest movements such as Extinction Rebellion.

The call for bold, decisive action by governments and businesses on behalf of the planet and future generations is getting louder and louder.

EIU Report cover
EIU Report cover
© EIU/WWF