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The Sustainable Development Goals — Sensible Initiative or Just Nonsense? An Investigation of Norwegian Citizens’ Knowledge and Attitudes

Abstract

Abstract: We explore what associations Norwegian citizens have with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through an analysis of their knowledge of and attitudes towards these goals. To achieve this, we combine three methodological approaches: (1) structural topic modelling (STM) providing
topic prevalence, (2) manual content analysis including exploration of attitudes, and (3) analysis of
how individuals’ background characteristics relate to expressions of negative or positive sentiments
towards SDGs. The data consist of 4046 answers to an open-ended question, formulated as follows:
What comes to mind when you read or hear the expression ‘UN Sustainability Development Goals?’, fielded
during the autumn of 2020, through a survey at the Norwegian Citizen Panel/DIGSSCORE. Major
findings: The most prevalent topics associated with the SDGs are poverty, climate/environment,
resources, future generations and consumption. The analysis indicates that the Norwegian awarenessraising
campaigns have been relatively successful. However, the manual analysis shows that the SDG
is an unknown concept for 12% of the respondents, and that 10% hold a negative view. Nine percent of
the respondents hold a positive view of the goals. In addition, their attitudes differ clearly according
to various background variables (gender, age, political preference). The findings are important for
further efforts to spread knowledge of, and raise interest in, the SDGs, at different levels (government,regional and local contexts).
Keywords: sustainability; open-ended question; Structural Topic Modelling; awareness; attitudes.

Category

Academic article

Client

  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 301103

Language

English

Author(s)

Affiliation

  • University of Bergen
  • SINTEF Ocean / Climate and Environment
  • NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS

Year

2022

Published in

Sustainability

ISSN

2071-1050

Publisher

MDPI

Volume

14

Issue

7

Page(s)

1 - 16

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