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The DEval Opinion Monitor for Development Policy

The 2030 Agenda of the United Nations adopted in 2015 has made the involvement of citizens in development cooperation (DC) more important than ever. The Agenda’s ambitious goals cannot be achieved without broad public support. In many places, however, public criticism of international cooperation is increasing. With its Opinion Monitor for Development Policy project, DEval has carried out regular studies since 2017 to track public opinion on these issues in Germany.

Security of the global food supply, poverty reduction, health and education, conserving natural resources and combating climate change, gender equity and sustainable production and consumption: Germany has made a commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which also act as guidelines for official development cooperation. When this is being realised, the population's ideas should be taken into account  – not least because it is publicly funded.

The work done by civil society organisations also stands or falls on the support of the general public. They require donations and rely on civic engagement. An awareness of global interdependencies must also be anchored in wider society, if it is to align its behaviour with the 2030 Agenda.

Background

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda has made the active involvement of citizens in development cooperation (DC) and the German Sustainable Development Strategy more relevant than ever. The Agenda’s ambitious goals, which address such topics as global food security, health, environmental protection, gender equality, education and sustainable production and consumption, will not be achieved without broad public support.

From a normative perspective, too, the support of the general public for any political goals and measures is important. For example, government decision-makers should take the population's views into account when designing policies in order to ensure their acceptance or legitimacy. The same applies to DC as an instrument for implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Equally, civil society organisations rely heavily on citizens’ interest and support in the form of donations and civic engagement. While financial contributions and civic engagement ensure their capacity to operate, public familiarity with and appreciation of these organisations’ work is essential in order to anchor an awareness of global interdependencies in wider society and establish behaviours that are in keeping with the 2030 Agenda.

At present, however, insufficient data and studies are available on the general public's perspective on development policy, DC and global sustainable development, particularly in the wake of current world political developments (e.g. international terrorism, the global refugee movement and the coronavirus pandemic) which have made DC a greater focus of public attention once more. As a result, there is an urgent need to know more about people's knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in relation to these issues. The DEval Opinion Monitor seeks to meet this need for insights, and to provide DC actors with both feedback on public opinion on the topic of DC and sustainable development, and orienting knowledge to guide their strategic approaches and their communication and educational work.

Methods

The Opinion Monitor 2018 was based on survey data from the Aid Attitudes Tracker (AAT), a (panel) study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and based at University College London (UCL). On a six-monthly cycle between 2013 and 2018, around 6,000 people in Germany, France, Great Britain and the USA were interviewed on DC. Since 2019 the study has been continued by the Development Engagement Lab (DEL) project at UCL and the University of Birmingham, and likewise financed by the BMGF. The DEval Opinion Monitor makes use of the DEL survey data.

The AAT, now DEL, panel survey consists of recurring core questions (attitude to DC, changing the budget for DC, etc.) and questions on one-off thematic blocks that are fed in from the DC community. These often relate to current political events (e.g. refugee movements, the Islamic state). The panel survey was conducted every six months for the AAT, and once a year for the DEL project. In order to monitor learning effects from repeated surveys and to obtain data at shorter intervals, the DEL conducts additional surveys several times a year. These are normally based on their own cross-sectional samples and seek responses on core indicators (e.g. attitudes towards DC) and topics of current relevance. Such surveys include the DEL survey on media use and perception in May/June 2019.

In addition to the AAT and DEL surveys, the Opinion Monitor team conducts its own experimental surveys. These investigate how various kinds of information affect attitudes towards DC. The study team also analyses media content for the Opinion Monitor, for which they make use of both existing content-analysis data and their own content analyses.

The DEval Opinion Monitor is supported by a reference group consisting of representatives of state and civil society DC actors. In addition, the study is reviewed by internal and external peer reviewers with expertise in the fields of DC, attitudinal research and social science research methodology.

Contact

Portrait von Dr. Sebastian Schneider
© DEval

Dr Sebastian H. Schneider

Evaluator - Team Leader

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-977

E-mail: sebastian.schneider@DEval.org

[Translate to Englisch:] Portrait Martin Bruder
© DEval

Dr Martin Bruder

Head of Department: Civil Society, Human Rights

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-970

E-mail: martin.bruder@DEval.org

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