In line with its international commitments, the EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 sets out a long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, and builds on the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020. The EU Birds and Habitats Directives are central to EU biodiversity policy, through the designation and protection of areas of high biodiversity value, known as the Natura 2000 network, with the aim of protecting valuable species and habitats on land and at sea.
Eurobarometer surveys on the topic of biodiversity have been published regularly since 2007. For the 2007 (Flash Eurobarometer 219), 2010 (Flash Eurobarometer 290) and 2013 (Flash Eurobarometer 379) surveys, respondents from different social and demographic groups were interviewed via telephone in their native language on behalf of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment. For the 2015 survey (Special Eurobarometer 436) and the 2018 survey (Special Eurobarometer 481), published in 2019, interviews were conducted face to face.
The most recent survey involved 27,643 respondents being interviewed between 4 and 20 December 2018. Interviewees aged 15 years and over were selected from each EU Member State and the UK. Basic multi-stage, random (probability) sample design was used in each EU Member State and the UK and a number of sampling points were drawn, the probabilities of which were proportional to population size (for total coverage of each state) and population density. To do this, the sampling points were drawn systematically from each ‘administrative regional unit’, after stratification by individual unit and area type. They thus represent the whole territory of the states being surveyed, according to Eurostat NUTS 2 (or equivalent) designations and the distribution of the resident population in terms of metropolitan, urban and rural areas. For 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. The computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) technique was used for data capture in states where this was available.
For each state, 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 states surveyed, a national weighting procedure, using marginal and intercellular weighting, was carried out based on this universe description. In all states, gender, age, region and size of locality were introduced in the iteration procedure. For international weightings (i.e. EU averages), Kantar Public Brussels, which carried out the survey, applied the official population figures as provided by Eurostat or national statistics offices.
Public opinion is vital in influencing politicians and decision-makers, and can motivate individuals at all levels to lead and take action. This indicator is based on the latest Special Eurobarometer survey on biodiversity, a quantitative questionnaire-based survey that also captures qualitative information, involving focus groups.
The purpose of this indicator is to explore the attitude 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.
This information gives an indication of attitudes towards biodiversity per se and attitudes towards actions taken (financial and fiscal, public statements, etc.) by politicians and public bodies for the protection and management of biodiversity.
Main advantages of the indicator:
- It is relevant for EU biodiversity policy and is based on survey results from all EU Member States and the United Kingdom.
- The results are easy to understand and widely accepted.
- It is methodologically well founded.
Survey results are estimates, the accuracy of which depends on the sample sizes and the observed percentages. With samples of about 1,000 interviews, the real percentages vary within the confidence limits, which are included in the annex to EC (2019).
The Flash Eurobarometer surveys from 2007, 2010 and 2013 were carried out by telephone. However, because of the complexity of the topic and the length of the questionnaire, the 2015 and 2019 Special Eurobarometer surveys were conducted face to face. The findings from the surveys carried out in 2007, 2010 and 2013 are therefore not directly comparable with those from 2015 and 2019 because of this change in surveying method. The 2015 survey sets the baseline for comparison with the results of the 2019 Special Eurobarometer survey and future surveys, and the establishment of trends.
The main disadvantages of the indicator are that it is dependent on the questions asked in the survey and on differing interpretations/responses by respondents based on socio-economic/cultural factors.