Sustainable Innovation

French media to provide more information on Sustainable Development

The French market research agency ‘Opinionway’ concludes that a majority of French people considers that ‘there is not enough information in the media on Sustainable Development’ . 

Opinionway survey unveils French public opinion about role of media

Opinionway recently presented its study ‘Média et développement durable’ on the 26th of May. The study has been conducted end of May 2010 and was based on computer assisted web interviews with 1055 participants of 18 years and older in France.

57 % of the French people consider the current information in French media on Sustainable Development as ‘insufficient. As well, the quality of the information is being disputed : only 33 % believes the quality of the information is ‘good’ or ‘quite good’.

Who is responsible for Sustainable Development ?

In 2010, French people are less convinced about who carries the main responsibility for Sustainable Development.  Whereas in 2009 70% of the people agreed that ‘Sustainable Development is everybody’s responsibility’, this year only half of the people agreed with the statement. The responsability enterprises if confirmed by only 51`% (down from 61%), the role of the media to provide complete and correct information was confirmed by only 43% (down from 51%). In 2009 50% of the French people believed the public authorities should drive the a sustainable policies, where as in 2010 only 36% agrees with this statement. 

Assumed roles and reponsibilities of ‘everyone’, ‘entreprises’, ‘media’ and ‘public authorities’. 

Preferred information sources are online sites and specialised magazines

Being asked about the preferred media for finding adequate information, a large majority (82%) responds that they search for specialised magazines (82) and online information (70%) , over information via the radio (66%), in the daily press (65%) or on the television (49%).


Preferred media channels to find information on Sustainable Development

All age groups prefer the Internet (76%) for finding information on Sustainable Development and just 38% look or listen in the daily press,  the radio or the television. The people with 50+ years look for books (20% and 23% in age groups 50-59 and 60+,and only13 to 16% in the younger age groups). As of the age of 35 the role of personal relations increases to find adequate information.


Differences in first choice media channel by age group

No unanymous expectations about the role of the media

The supposed role of the media remains divided. 31% believes the media should report factually (down from 34%). 30% underlines the obligation of the media to alert catastrophes (down from 37%). 30% believes the media should launch the debate and controversies (almost the same as in 2009). 26% believes the media have an pedagogical role.


No unanymous declared role for the media (factual information, information on catastrophes, launching the debate, educational role)


The study of Opinionway offers a snapshot of sentiments. It does not provide answers why people seem to be less satisfied with the levels and quality of media information. Neither it comes up with suggestions of actions to be taken.

Following the public debate in France however, we could find however some traces and developments that support Opinionway’s Conclusions, as well define recommendations for actions to be taken.

Why has the initial enthousiasm been tempered ?

The optimistic tone of voice in 2007 and 2008 has changed into a more and more sceptical one. I wonder : Why do people  feel ‘saturated’ on the topic ? Why are they dissatisfied about the level or quality of information ? Could there be an ‘information overkill’  ? Has Sustainable Development been ‘overhyped’ ? Probably. Does it has to do with the economical crises ? Maybe. Is it an exemple of the maximum lifecycle of a ‘consumer hype’, which just fades away.. ? Hereby some reasons why public opinion seems to have changed :

  • Saturation of Information : In the last year, information on Sustainable Development is presented everywhere. IFOP concluded early 2010 that French people experienced a sense of ‘saturation’ of Sustainable Development Information in the media. There may be much information out there, but it is not regarded as sufficiently adequate nor sufficiently targeted.
  • Disappointment about Copenhaguen : As the high expectations for the Copenhague summit in December 2009 were not met, the conference was immediately regarded as a failure in the press. Hardly any attention was paid to the fact that for the first time in history world leaders start to discuss first steps to attack the world economical, social environmental issues.
  • Eco-sceptic people get attention : The eco-sceptical book of Claude Allègre ‘l’Imposture climatique ou la fausse ecologique’ has drawn much attention in France. Mr Allegre disputes the statements of climate change due to human intervention. Apart from the fact his book is disputed all over, it leaves some people with the feeling that ‘all ecologists are liars’.
  • The French government  has started in a tremendous way in 2007 ‘Grenelle d’Environnement’, with round tables and representatives of all civilian, employers, employees and NGOs resulting in a new series of laws like the Grenelle 2 laws and more specificly extended CSR reporting requirements and Eco-labels on products. The process has been tougher than expected. Some groups believe the Grenelle 2 is by far not ambitious enough. Unfortunately putspeaking NGO’s like the Nicolas Hulot Foundation have left the round table discussions.

Which actions to be taken ?

Fortunately,  numerous entreprises and public organisations have started their Sustainable Development and CSR programs, new green product development schemes and mobilisation of employees. They are all taking responsibility as their partners, the government and their customers (entreprises ánd consumers) ask for it.

I firmly believe that companies and governmental institutions should continue to show positive exemples. Positive examples are key to keep employees motivated. New achievements should be actively promoted as a counter-poison to the negative stories that turn around. Exemplary municipalities, successful green and social businesses, intentive civilians : they all should be highlighted and promoted. Exemples should be realistic, specific and ambitious.

I hope the Best Practices presented in this blog, and my consultancy activities,  give a positive impulse to this change : Look at these companies and public organisations : they are all successful, serve their customers in an excellent way ánd take responsibility for a greener, social and healthy world !

Source : 1.


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[…] a balanced choice, Grenelle 2 focussing on local application  ; How to turn around medi ‘saturation’ ;  Why targeted examples are […]

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