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Engaging Frontrunners Worldwide with the Sustainable Development Goals

This study investigates public awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide. It also identifies groups of people which can be of assistance to the global SDGs community in its mission to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The main outcomes are:

1. Awareness of progress made remains low
Despite that extreme poverty has almost halved since 1990, the great majority of people around the world do not think that progress has been made. Many people think that extreme poverty actually has increased in the last decades.

2. There exist frontrunners in society who can help realize the Sustainable Development Goals
In the global survey we identify two similar yet distinct groups of well-informed front runners: the visionaries and the involved optimists. These frontrunner groups encompass one in five people surveyed. They are often Millennials who do not only adopt an optimistic stance towards eradicating global poverty, but are also more ready to get involved personally in combating poverty and helping to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. They often belong to the values segment of the Achievers.

3. Frontrunners can join forces with the charitable community
In certain aspects, such as desire for status, the frontrunners differ fundamentally from people who work in the charity/non-profit sector. The latter are strongly driven by idealism, altruism and morals and are much less driven by realizing personal or organizational objectives. Despite attitudinal differences, the vision for a better world and the desire to contribute to social change are the link between the charitable community and the frontrunners.

4. Resonating with frontrunners requires proven results and appropriate communication
The frontrunners often already occupy influential positions in society, leadership and the business community. They possess skills, power, leadership qualities, respect from others and a broad social network, which are strong assets in the strategic and tactical process of realizing the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. However, in order to gain the highest leverage and really make a difference, it is imperative to promote initiatives that are proven effective. Using the best-fitting communication methods and storylines to engage and involve the frontrunners relies on tapping into the right and distinguishing archetypes. Storylines and frames which have a strong fit with the ‘ruler’ archetype (setting goals and working towards realizing them which resonates with both groups) are appealing among all frontrunners. The ‘magician’ archetype (seeing and working towards realizing the necessary transformations) more often resonates with visionaries, whereas the ‘sage’ archetype (telling the facts and science about the impact of initiatives, progress made and challenges ahead) resonates strongly with involved optimists.

5. Increasing progress awareness is vital for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals
Making more influential people aware of the progress so far regarding extreme poverty eradication is of major importance, as even among the frontrunners the knowledge of progress made is still rather low and these people are in the position to share results effectively and mobilize others. The web revolution and the social media sphere offer ample opportunities for involving citizens across the globe in increasing the pace of change for the better and participating in the process.


Martijn Lampert

Research Director

+31 20 589 83 70

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