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The DEval Opinion Monitor 2018 (Phase I)

This study examines the attitudes, knowledge and engagement of the German population regarding development policy, development cooperation and global sustainable development. It provides state and civil society actors with up-to-date information and analyses on this topic area that they can use for the strategic orientation of their work as well as for communication and education work.

Main Findings and Implications from Opinion Monitor 2018

Germany’s citizens regard development policy and development cooperation (DC) as important.

The extent of their support for government engagement in this area depends on their political orientation, their sense of moral obligation towards countries in the Global South and their assessment of the effectiveness of DC. The high level of support from the general public is a great opportunity for German development policy.

At the same time, many people doubt that DC is effective and presume corruption to be widespread.

They also significantly overestimate the share of the federal budget allocated to DC. The essentially positive stance of the general public should be utilised in order to conduct an open discussion about the motives, successes and failures of DC, with a view to increasing awareness of the commonalities and interdependencies between people from different regions of the world.

The general public supports the underlying principles of the 2030 Agenda.

Nevertheless, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are largely unknown. Also, a majority does not believe that the 17 SDGs will be achieved by the year 2030. People assess their own influence on the achievement of the goals to be moderate. Giving greater visibility to successes achieved and people’s own possibilities for exerting an influence could foster public engagement in support of the SDGs.

 

The evaluation was completed in 2018. This is a summary of the findings and recommendations; you can find the complete findings and recommendations in the report.

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.

Team

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

Related Documents

The Different Phases of the Opinion Monitor

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