Every year, the market research agency Colmar Brunton releases its ‘Better Futures Report’, an ongoing study of New Zealanders’ perspectives on sustainability, and how these perspectives are changing over time.
As we’re living in a time when the term ‘sustainability’ has become hard to define – so often is it now used, by so many in business – I find it intriguing to read from these reports what the citizen-consumers that Colmar Brunton are surveying understand by this concept, and how their concept of sustainability is playing out in their values and actions.
This stuff matters if you’re in business. In a separate 2014 survey, Deloittes concluded that Millennials (who they define as people born post-1982) ‘will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, and have large ambitions for business. They see a big gap between the potential of business to address the challenges facing society and the actual impact it is having’.
What are the major challenges facing society, according to New Zealanders? Participants in the latest Colmar Brunton survey were reminded of the seventeen areas in which the United Nations has agreed to set its Global Goals for Sustainable Development; from this list, they were asked to choose which of these areas was most important to them. Comfortably in first place – chosen by 19% of all Kiwis surveyed – was a desire for poverty to be eradicated. Other major areas of importance chosen were good health and wellbeing, quality education, sustainable cities and communities, and clean water and sanitation.
And which New Zealand company do people deem to be having most impact in demonstrating an effective social purpose? In 2015, the Better Futures Report asked the people they surveyed to choose brands from a list which they perceive to be leaders of sustainability. Trade Aid came out on top in this survey, which we find somewhat reassuring. We know that our work in fair trade – supported by an increasing number of New Zealanders – is helping to transform communities in the developing world, and playing an effective role in helping to eradicate poverty. From the survey results, we also appear to be communicating this message relatively well to the wider populace.
At the same time, we have no great cause for complacency. The 2016 Better Futures Report confirms that actually New Zealanders have little awareness of those UN Sustainable Development Goals even while they are clear that a sustainable future for us all requires an urgent improvement on social issues – particularly poverty. There is, according to Colmar Brunton, ‘no shortage of desire to make a difference – people just need to know what to do’. It remains our challenge – and yours too! – to show that we can do good business while also doing good, and by communicating even better to those around us that we are building a better and more sustainable world through fair trade.