3-country study illustrates how perceptions data can complement official national data sources and build a fuller picture of people’s daily experiences across SDG targets areas
One-third of people in Sri Lanka know about the SDGs. Evidence suggests that awareness is growing around the world but there is still a very long way to go. In Lebanon 24% of people have heard of the SDGs, but in some countries, such as Romania, awareness of the SDGs is a mere 8% of the population. Across all three countries younger people are more likely to know about the SDGs than older people.
These are among the findings of a 2018 MY World representative study which asked residents in the 3 countries about the SDGs and levels of public services in their daily lives. The study worked with local research agencies in Romania, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka to carry out 1,000 face-to-face surveys in each country. Respondents were systematically sampled and statistically weighted to be representative of the national population in each country with respect to sex, region, and urbanity. The 24 questions, drawn from the MY World question library, were intended to inform discussions at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, around its key 2018 theme of Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies and the 3 countries were selected from the list of countries presenting Voluntary National Reviews this year.
The study aimed to link discussions around SDG delivery with the public perceptions of access to key services and to identify some of the pressing issues in the different countries. For instance, more than 40% of Lebanese people always or often have problems accessing both electricity and clean drinking water whereas this is much rarer in both Romania and Sri Lanka. But of the three countries Lebanon reported the highest levels of improvements in cleanliness of playgrounds in the past year.
Romanians are more likely than Sri Lankans to have a recycling facility close to their home (45% compared to 34%), but Sri Lankans were far more likely to use the service. Seventy percent of Sri Lankans reported that they had recycled the last bottle they had used and 71% also believed the bottle was recycled – compared to 44% and 51% in Romania.
With respect to public transit, Sri Lanka had the lowest availability of service among the three countries. But interestingly, this was not perceived as problem, with 80% of people saying they are quite satisfied of very satisfied with this level of service.
Several of these finding help to demonstrate the value of capturing and comparing public perceptions of services beyond merely referencing the service delivery indicators from official statistics. We see that the demand for and satisfaction with services may seem to contrast with the actual level of service delivery.
The study is part of a longer-term collaboration between the UN SDG Action Campaign and Paragon Partnerships to deepen analytical capacity across the 17 SDGs and of citizen perceptions of progress toward the SDGs. The study demonstrates the tremendous potential for private research firms to contribute valuable citizen perception insights into the heart of the SDG reporting processes. Governments and the UN can access timely data on SDG targets at national level and track progress on the 17 SDGs over time.
See the presentation and watch the side event (1hr12mins – 1hr18mins) at the High Level Political Forum where this study was presented by Jordan Robinson, Director for the Development Practice, Kantar Public as a member of Paragon Partnerships.
This study was generously conducted and supported by: