2020 Survey: “Students, sustainability and education”

Our 2020 global survey discloses that students are concerned about climate change and want to see this reflected in their education. They also are considering sustainability impacts in their voting and career choices. Currently, climate and sustainability education isn’t yet reaching the classroom. We need an education system that will equip young people with the knowledge, skills, attributes, and values to create a more just and sustainable future for all.

Worldwide student survey sustainability SOS International

Between April and October 2020, SOS International invited higher education institutions and student organisations to send out a survey designed to gather insight into student experiences of sustainability and education. More than 100 organizations took part and we received just under 7000 responses from students in higher education around the world. Responses were incentivized with a prize draw of the equivalent of ten €100 prizes.

Promoting organizations were instructed to promote the survey in a neutral manner, avoiding references to the environment and sustainability to avoid biasing the results.

The results

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executive summary


full report


press release

  • 92% agree that sustainable development is something which all universities and colleges should actively incorporate and promote.
  • 40% report low or no coverage of sustainable development concept in their course curriculum
  • 90% of respondents say they are willing to accept a salary sacrifice to work in a company with a good environmental and social record
  • When asked to identify the word that best describes their feelings about climate change and their future, 75% say they’re worried.

The report sets out the overall findings as well as regional breakdowns for UN regions which received 500 responses or more (Africa, Europe and Oceania), with questions forming the following themes:

  • Experiences of sustainability in education
  • Impacts of sustainability in education
  • Sustainability and employability
  • Climate change


To see the results visualized, navigate through the visual below, rewatch our webinar or download the full report.

Find out how you can create change with the survey data in this article.

Rewatch the Survey Results webinar

What others say

Dr Hilligje van’t Land, Secretary General of the International Association of Universities (IAU), Ankit Tripathi, environmental justice policy lead and steering committee member of Global Students Forum, and Carina Mütschele, Youth & Education Officer of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reflect on the findings of SOS International’s 2020 research into Students, Sustainability and Education.

Find out how your organisation can create change with the data 



Thanks goes to all the students from around the world who contributed to the research by completing the survey and to the organizations who helped distribute and promote this work.

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