Inderscience Publishers

Public literacy on sustainable development

Public literacy on sustainability, knowledge about sustainability and competence to act sustainably, is assessed with a 20–question questionnaire as a function of participants' gender, age, education and annual income by surveying 353 randomly selected typical, non–expert citizens. Exploratory factor analysis reduced the number of independent variables, questions, from 20 to five, which were used for analysis and interpretation. Public sustainability literacy explains more of the total variance than any other latent factor, yet high proportions of 'Don't Know' responses to all theme questions are evident. However, subject responses show a noteworthy level of knowledge and willingness to contribute to sustainable development. Assuming that typical citizens are not passive receptors of decisions made by sustainable development experts, an individual domain of responsibility is introduced to turn policies/regulations and technical advances into knowledge–based actions. The recommended bottom–up approach complements the top–down approach practiced presently and requires national campaigns to teach non–experts specific actions to achieve and maintain sustainability.

Keywords: sustainable development, sustainability responsibility domains, survey questionnaire design, bottom–up approach, public literacy, gender, age, education, annual income, sustainability literacy, national campaigns

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