The yearly study finds most Kiwis believe the country is doing badly on key issues. They feel New Zealand is failing to lead on the major challenges we face.
The Colmar Brunton Better Futures report has been running since 2009. It takes a nationwide sample of 1,000 people.
Participants are asked to state their key concerns. They are asked to rate how well New Zealand is tackling those concerns. They are asked whether the country is a leader in the relevant area.
There are few surprises in the kinds of issues Kiwis express concern about. Poverty tops the list, followed by education, clean water and health. Sustainable cities and communities comes in at number four. It ranks just above the aspiration to eliminate hunger in our nation.
There were many areas where few respondents felt NZ is performing better than seven out of 10.
This is true of issues the participants said were highly important. Seventy nine percent of them rated clean water and sanitation eight out of 10 or above for importance. But less than one in four believed New Zealand’s performance matched the magnitude of the issue. Only six per cent felt New Zealand is taking a lead.
Similar gaps between perceived importance and performance existed across all the issues. Between 69%-79% of participants rated all the key issues eight out of 10 or above. But only 10%-24% of them felt performance was eight out of 10 or above. Almost nobody (0-6%) felt NZ was taking the lead.
According to the report, part of this is a lack of awareness of progress that is happening. This sounds a wake-up call for those tasked with communicating initiatives on these issues. This is despite a slight drop in the number of respondents who said businesses are confusing and hard to understand when talking about these issues.
Colmar Brunton Chief Client Officer Sarah Bolger said: “In particular Kiwis think we need to do more towards achieving zero hunger, sustainable cities and communities and no poverty, as they believe our performance in these areas fails to measure up to the importance we place on them.”
Commenting on the report, SBN CEO Rachel Brown says it lays down a challenge to reaffirm New Zealand’s aspirational and progressive culture.
“What is encouraging is that ordinary people are aware that we have a lot to of work to do,” she said. “We have had years of government ministers saying they won’t lead on climate change. The response to issues like our water quality crisis has too often been: ‘oh well, we’re not as bad as some other countries’. It simply isn’t good enough.”
Hearteningly, the Colmar Brunton report charts the continuing rise in people’s stated intent to live a sustainable lifestyle. This year 83% of respondents said they would stop buying a company’s products if they heard about them being irresponsible or unethical.
There’s also good news for SBN. Most of the brands recognised as leading on sustainability are SBN members, including ecostore, Fairtrade, Z, Meridian and Air New Zealand, winner of this year’s Supreme Award at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.
“People clearly recognise leadership when they see it,” says Rachel.
Read the full report here.