Public awareness

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-164-en
Also known as: SEBI 026
Created 14 Jun 2016 Published 09 Aug 2016 Last modified 09 Aug 2016, 12:13 PM
Topics: ,
The majority of European Union citizens have heard of the term "biodiversity", but less than one third know what it means. Additionally, most do not feel informed about biodiversity loss. However, at least eight out of ten Europeans consider the various effects of biodiversity loss to be serious. About a quarter of respondents have heard of Natura 2000 network, including 16 % who say they have heard about it but don't know what it is.

Key messages

The majority of European Union citizens have heard of the term "biodiversity", but less than one third know what it means. Additionally, most do not feel informed about biodiversity loss.

However, at least eight out of ten Europeans consider the various effects of biodiversity loss to be serious.

About a quarter of respondents have heard of Natura 2000 network, including 16 % who say they have heard about it but don't know what it is.

What is the level of public awareness about biodiversity in Europe? Are people willing to take action?

Familiarity with the term biodiversity

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Data sources: Explore chart interactively

Awareness of the Natura 2000 network

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The results of the latest Special Eurobarometer survey, published in 2015, show that of the 60 % of respondents who have heard of the term "biodiversity", only half of them also know what it means (Figure 1). Two thirds (66 %) of EU citizens do not feel informed about the loss of biodiversity, with 22 % saying they do not feel informed at all.

Overall, at least eight out of ten respondents believe that the decline and possible extinction of animals, plants, natural habitats and ecosystems are all serious problems at national, European and global levels. Pollution and man-made disasters are considered the biggest threats to biodiversity, followed by climate change (TNS, 2015).

In 2015, 60 % of EU citizens very much agreed that it is important to halt biodiversity loss because our well-being and quality of life is based upon nature and biodiversity. Almost two thirds of people surveyed say they are making personal efforts to protect biodiversity and nature and half of them would like to do even more.

The survey also reveals that most Europeans are unaware of what the EU is doing to save biodiversity: roughly three quarters of Europeans have not heard of the Natura 2000 network (73 %) (Figure 2). Around half of those who have heard about it, do not know what it is.

 

NOTES

Flash Eurobarometer surveys from 2007, 2010 and 2013 were carried out by telephone. However, due to the complexity of the topic and the length of the questionnaire, the 2015 Special Eurobarometer survey was conducted face-to-face. This change of surveying mode makes direct comparison with results from previous surveys methodologically unreliable, while the impact of these changes cannot be easily evaluated. Rather than comparing results obtained with different survey methodologies, the 2015 survey sets the baseline for comparison and the establishment of trends for future Special Eurobarometer surveys on Biodiversity.

Detailed analysis of the survey results from 2007, 2010 and 2013 is presented in the previous version of the indicator: http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/public-awareness/public-awareness-assessment-published-may-1

 

REFERENCES

*TNS, 2015, Special Eurobarometer N° 436: Attitudes of Europeans towards biodiversity. Survey conducted by TNS Opinion & Social at the request of the Directorate-General for Environment and co-ordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/COMMFrontOffice/PublicOpinion/index.cfm/ResultDoc/download/DocumentKy/68148 [Accessed 22 March 2016].

*TNS, 2013, Flash Eurobarometer Series N° 379: Attitudes towards biodiversity. Survey conducted by TNS Political & Social at the request of the Directorate-General for Environment and co-ordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_379_en.pdf  [Accessed 20 June 2016].

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

This indicator is based on the Eurobarometer survey on biodiversity, a quantitative questionnaire-based survey, which provides results that can be presented as in the following fictional example: '35 % of the European voting population visit a nature reserve at least once a year'. It can also include qualitative information, often involving focus groups, as in the following fictional example: 'Discussion in the United Kingdom focus groups has shown that people are highly concerned about the impact of climate change on wildlife'.

Units

The units used in this indicator are the percentage of survey respondents.


Policy context and targets

Context description

Public opinion is a vital factor in influencing politicians and decision makers. It provides a barometer for public support and interest, and motivates individuals at all levels to lead and take more action. The purpose of this indicator on public opinion is, therefore, to gauge attitudes of the general public in relation to issues such as: biodiversity and the importance of preserving it, the seriousness and impact of biodiversity loss, the biggest threats to biodiversity, what the EU should do to prevent the loss of biodiversity, the role of the Natura 2000 network, personal efforts to protect nature and biodiversity etc.

Relation of the indicator to the focal area

Public opinion is an indication of: 1) attitudes towards biodiversity per se; and 2) attitudes towards actions taken by politicians and public bodies for the protection and management (financial and fiscal, public statements, etc.) of biodiversity.

Targets

This indicator provides a general contribution to the EU 2020 headline biodiversity target.

Related policy documents

  • EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy
    in the Communication: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2011) 244) the European Commission has adopted a new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. There are six main targets, and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal. The six targets cover: - Full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity - Better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure - More sustainable agriculture and forestry - Better management of fish stocks - Tighter controls on invasive alien species - A bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

The Flash Eurobarometer survey is part of a trend survey. Previous surveys were published in 2007 and 2010 (Flash Eurobarometer No 219 and 290), while the 2013 survey (Flash Eurobarometer 379), with 25 537 respondents, presented comparative data between the three surveys. The most recent survey was published in 2015 (Special Eurobarometer 436). For the 2007 and 2013 surveys, respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed via telephone in their mother tongue on behalf of the European Commission's DG Environment. In 2015, interviews were conducted face-to-face, with 27 718 respondents.

Interviewees, aged 15 years and over, were selected from residents of each of the EU member States. The basic sample design applied in all Member States is multi-stage random (probability).

The basic sample design applied in all EU Member States is multi-stage, random (probability). In each country, a number of sampling points was drawn with probability proportional to population size (for a total coverage of the country) and to population density. In order to do so, the sampling points were drawn systematically from each of the 'administrative regional units', after stratification by individual unit and type of area. They thus represent the whole territory of the countries surveyed according to EUROSTAT NUTS II (or equivalent) and according to the distribution of the resident population of the respective nationalities in terms of metropolitan, urban and rural areas. In each of the selected sampling points, a starting address was drawn at random. Further addresses (every Nth address) were selected by standard 'random route' procedures, from the initial address. In each household, the respondent was drawn, at random (following the 'closest birthday rule'). All interviews were conducted face-to-face in people's homes and in the appropriate national language. As far as the data capture is concerned, CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview) was used in those countries where this technique was available.

For each country, a comparison between the sample and the universe was carried out. The universe description was derived from Eurostat population data or from national statistics offices. For all countries surveyed, a national weighting procedure, using marginal and intercellular weighting, was carried out based on this universe description. In all countries, gender, age, region and size of locality were introduced in the iteration procedure. For international weighting (i.e. EU averages), TNS Opinion & Social applies the official population figures as provided by EUROSTAT or national statistics offices (TNS, 2015).

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Survey results are estimates, the accuracy of which, everything being equal, rests upon the sample size and upon the observed percentage. With samples of about 1 000 interviews, the real percentages vary within the confidence limits, which are included in the annex to the TNS report (TNS, 2015).

Data sets uncertainty

Flash Eurobarometer surveys from 2007, 2010 and 2013 were carried out by telephone. However, due to the complexity of the topic and the length of the questionnaire, the 2015 Special Eurobarometer survey was conducted face-to-face. This change of surveying mode makes direct comparison with results from previous surveys methodologically unreliable, while the impact of these changes cannot be easily evaluated. Rather than comparing results obtained with different survey methodologies, the 2015 survey sets the baseline for comparison and the establishment of trends for future Special Eurobarometer surveys on Biodiversity.

Rationale uncertainty

MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF THE INDICATOR

  • It is dependent on the questions asked in the survey. Differing levels of interpretation/response by the public based on socio-economic/cultural factors.

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Biodiversity Biodiversity (Primary topic)

Tags:
attitudes of european citizens | biodiversity | natura 2000
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • SEBI 026
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
2007-2015
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Katarzyna Biala

EEA Management Plan

2016 1.7.4 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 3 years
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100