- 98% of UAE consumers believe that businesses can make a difference in addressing environmental challenges through their choices and actions.
- 58% seek sustainability information from social media.
- 90% expressed their intention to increase their adoption of sustainable practices or products in the future.
- 78% are willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly products.
UAE: Ahead of COP28, to be held in Dubai from November 30th to December 12th, Toluna, a leading consumer insights, technology, panel, and market research consultancy, conducted a comprehensive study aimed at gauging the depth of awareness and concern regarding sustainability and climate change among UAE residents. The survey explored the diverse perspectives, behaviors, and aspirations of the community concerning sustainability and environmental stewardship. The findings highlight the UAE residents' firm resolve towards sustainability, advocating for concerted actions and strategies, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Accords.
Insights into Sustainability Commitment
The survey confirms that UAE residents are very sustainability-aware: only 2% aren’t familiar with the concept. Awareness seems to lead to concern for most of the respondents with 95% expressing varying degrees of concern regarding sustainability. Among these, 59% were very apprehensive about the challenges facing the planet. A deeper analysis of the data shows that there are some differences between genders, with women being less concerned about sustainability: 8% were not concerned at all about the sustainability challenges and 15% were little concerned.
The survey also inquired about awareness regarding climate change: 98% of respondents said they were familiar with the concept and 93% recognized climate change as being a critical global concern, highlighting a shared urgency in addressing pressing environmental challenges.
Proactive Consumer Actions
The survey also showed that environmental concerns are encouraging proactive consumer actions: 59% adopted reusable bags, 52% expressed support for renewable energy sources, 49% embraced hybrid or electric cars, and 53% utilized ride-sharing services, a shift towards eco-friendly transportation.
Additionally, 97% believed that businesses hold a pivotal role in addressing environmental challenges through their actions.
Primary Environmental Concerns and Trust in Sustainability Efforts
The survey delved into primary environmental concerns, revealing that 39% were mostly concerned about air pollution, while 30% highlighted worries about water pollution, climate change-related issues, and food waste. Interestingly, 51% showed moderate trust in companies' sustainability claims, pointing to an increasingly discerning consumer that seeks more transparency in corporate sustainability initiatives.
Preferred Channels for Sustainability Information
The survey also uncovered which channels consumers turn to for sourcing sustainability information: 57% seek information on social media, 54% rely on online reviews, 49% referred to news and media, 40% browse companies' websites, 40% look at on-pack labels, and 39% obtained information from friends and family. Moreover, a significant 78% expressed a willingness to pay a premium for eco-friendly products, signaling a robust market demand.
Shared Responsibility and Future Intentions
Reinforcing a shared belief in collective responsibility, 66% of respondents advocated for governments, individuals, and businesses to jointly address environmental challenges.
When it comes to businesses, consumers are keen to see them do more, in fact, there are specific steps that they think brands should take to become more sustainable and combat climate change with particular emphasis on reducing plastic packaging and carbon emissions in their operations – around 65% of UAE consumers would like to see more focus on these actions.
Consumers have high expectations for governments too: 69% want to see them do more regarding raising public awareness on climate change, 58% are keen on stricter environmental regulations, and 57% want to see more collaboration with other nations on climate initiatives.
Looking ahead, 91% expressed their intention to embrace more sustainable practices in the future, emphasizing affordability (55%), greater awareness (53%), and a need for increased availability of sustainable products (52%) as factors that would encourage more environmentally-conscious behavior.
With UAE hosting this round of talks, the survey also focused on how aware respondents are regarding the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference and the goals of the Paris Accords. 77% of respondents were aware that COP28 is taking place in Dubai with 92% of these claiming that the hosting of the COP in UAE has made them more aware of the United Nations' role in addressing sustainability and climate issues.
Georges Akkaoui, Enterprise Account Director & Office Leader MEA at Toluna, reflected on these insights, stating, "As we delve deeper into the survey outcomes, it's evident that UAE residents are demonstrating a profound and conscientious stance regarding sustainability and climate change. This acknowledgment of environmental responsibility underscores a growing demand for eco-conscious products in our market”. He elaborated: “The survey findings serve as a compelling testament to the evolving landscape, signalling the need for businesses, brands, and policymakers to harmonize their strategies with the changing tides of consumer preferences and environmental imperatives. This alignment could be pivotal, and brands in particular need to understand these shifts better and integrate sustainability not merely as an add-on but as a one of the fundamentals of their ethos”
Akkaoui confirmed that this symbiotic evolution is key, fostering a collective synergy that propels toward a more sustainable future, one that resonates with the aspirations and values of UAE residents.
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