The first online consultation results are in: What are key priorities, SDGs and industries for a better 2030?

Written by Samantha Ndiwalana, Data Analyst Trainee at Index Initiative (WBA Secretariat).

Much like a good story, the results from a good survey are hardly ever straightforward. As part of the consultation phase, the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) ran global in-person roundtable consultations as well as a series of online consultations. Broadly, the online consultation was split into two surveys: one for the general public and one for professionals working in sustainability. The first was a short survey asking about people’s vision for a better world in 2030 and which SDGs and industries they believe are essential to get there. 9,865 people from 145 different countries responded to this general public survey.  A longer, more detailed survey was filled in by 361 professionals and focused on gathering expert perspectives on the SDGs, industries and benchmarks. Respondents to this professional survey came from all stakeholder groups, from the public sector to academia and investors. Using the results from these two online consultations, we can pull out some insights which tell an interesting story about SDGs and industries.

Insight 1: In the general public survey, environment is seen as the number one priority to make the world a better place in 2030 

Sustainable Environment is the top priority, overall and across gender. Across regions and income groups there are some differences.

Figure 1: Priority for a Better World in 2030.

Overall, 50% of respondents chose Sustainable Environment as their top priority, while 32% chose a Sustainable Society and 18% chose a Sustainable Economy. This result is consistent across regions as most respondents from Asia, Europe, North America and Sub-Saharan Africa chose Sustainable Environment as their top priority. The finding is also consistent across income groups, with the majority of voters from Low Income, Upper Middle Income and High-Income countries choosing a Sustainable Environment.

This finding suggests that even though people come from different countries, cultures and standards of living, there is some alignment in how they feel we can make the world a better place. This is a positive message for WBA which works to align various stakeholders from the public to private sector to work together towards achieving the SDGs.

Insight 2: Top SDG for making the world a better place in 2030

SDG 13: Climate Action is seen as a key SDG by the general public and professionals.

From the General Public Survey, SDG 13: Climate Action is the key SDG for making the world a better place in 2030. Followed by SDG 7: Clean Energy and SDG 1: No Poverty. There is some alignment with the Professionals Survey where SDG 1 is key, followed by SDG 13 and SDG 4. These slight differences are interesting, as we saw above that overall, while the general public and professionals agree on the importance of a Sustainable Environment, we can see here that there are some differences about how each of these groups feels we can reach that goal by 2030.

Figure 2: General Public SDG Choices
Figure 3: Professional’s SDG Choices.

From the general public survey, SDG 13: Climate Action is the key SDG for making the world a better place in 2030. Followed by SDG 7: Clean Energy and SDG 1: No Poverty. There is some alignment with the Professionals Survey where SDG 1 is key, followed by SDG 13 and SDG 4. However, there are some regional differences. In the general public survey, Climate Action is the top SDG in Europe, North America and Sub-Saharan Africa, while No Poverty is top in Latin America and the Caribbean and Oceania. Quality Education is top is the Middle East and Africa, and Access to Affordable and Clean Energy is top in Asia. From the professional survey, No Poverty was the most frequently chosen SDG in Europe, Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. Climate Action was top in North America and Latin America and Caribbean. Oceania’s top pick was Reduced Inequalities.

Insight 3: Key Industries for making the world a better place in 2030

Energy and Information and Communication Technology are key industries across the general public and professional surveys

If we look at SDG 13 (Climate Action), the General Public Survey shows that Industry, Energy and Food, Beverages and Household Products are the top three industries needed to achieve this goal. From the Professionals Survey, Fossil Fuels, Renewable Energy and Electric Utilities are the top three industries needed to achieve SDG 13. Thus, we find interesting similarities across the surveys which will help organisations like the WBA streamline their research in benchmarking.

Figure 4: Professional’s industry choices

It is also important to understand why specific industries were chosen. Some of the reasons professional respondents gave for their chosen industries are;


Explanations from respondents on why they chose specific industries to reach the SDG they think is most important:

“ICT can help create access to quality education in difficult-to-reach areas, to a lot more people than 1-on-1 education can, at a cheaper cost, and without the expensive infrastructure. Quality is also easier to achieve because users can access global materials or materials developed to global standards, without being limited to the (often poor) working knowledge of teachers.”

“The ubiquity of information technology and the open data movement is giving people improved access to healthcare through their mobile phones. In addition, new open data that geo-locates populations and the subsequent healthcare associated with this technology is helping to clearly illustrate where and how to improve SDG 3.”

“Agriculture is a key driver of habitat/biodiversity loss. The finance sector can be a significant lever for change across all sectors and a force for positive investment into low polluting technologies.”

The above insights are just one part of the story; there are many more interesting insights from the online consultation which, together with other findings and research from the consultation phase, will help shape the WBA’s path forward. Thank you for being part of the process. We look forward to sharing more findings from our consultation phase over the summer.


For the short survey for the general public, we worked together with several social media influencers to reach as many people as possible. A few of the posts from these influencers are shown below. 





Newsletter signup