German Institute for Development Evaluation

Attitudes towards development cooperation - On the path towards sustainability? (concluded)


With the Agenda 2030 adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, the active involvement of citizens in development cooperation (DC) and the German sustainability strategy is more edge-cutting than ever. Without the wide spread support within the population the set of highly ambitious goals set out in the Agenda 2030s SDGs (such as ensuring global food security, good health, preservation of the environment, gender equality, education and sustainable economic systems) can’t be met.

From a normative perspective, the support of citizens for political aims and actions is crucial. Policy makers should take the attitudes and visions of citizens into account, in order to ensure legitimacy and acceptance, even more so since public means are allocated. The same applies to DC as one instrument to implement the Agenda 2030 and its SDGs. Non-governmental organizations are also highly dependent on public opinion and attitudes as they rely on donations and volunteers. Action ability is limited if continuity of grants isn’t secured. Moreover, awareness and publicity for their work among the public is essential to foster an understanding for global interdependencies in society and establish sustainable behavior patterns in accordance with the Agenda 2030.

Systematic and up-to-date empirical insights on public knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding these issues are currently sparse, in particularly amid the current global developments (e.g. international terrorism, refugees) DC gained considerable public attention. This results in an urgent call for orientational knowledge on these aspects among people living in Germany.


The study aims to contribute to the discourse by providing up-to-date, independent, detailed, and policy-relevant insights into the public opinion on development cooperation and sustainable development. The guiding questions for this study are:

- Which knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors do citizens have on development policy and cooperation as well as sustainable development?

- Do attitudes, knowledge, and behavior differ from other “traditional” donor countries (USA, UK, France)?

- Have knowledge, attitudes, and behavior changed within the past three years?

- Which factors explain knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of the public (e.g., sociodemographic traits, ideological and party preference)? In this context, the macro-political events mentioned above play a particular role (refugee moments, international terrorism).

- How can the population be segmented regarding their knowledge, attitude, and behavior patterns

Outcomes could be used to inform German governmental and non-governmental actors in DC and to enhance public communication and civic education strategies.

Design and data

The study is based on the data of the Aid Attitude Tracker (AAT), a cross-country panel survey, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and coordinated by the University College London (UCL). Since 2013 the survey is conducted in 6 months cycles in Germany, France, UK and the US with approx. 6,000 participants per wave and country. The questionnaire covers a wide range of DC related repeated core topics as well as additional topics suggested by the aid community on current issues that possibly impact attitudes and perception of DC (e.g., refugee movement, international terrorism).

Given its specificity and currency (2013 to summer 2017) the AAT provides the best available data base for analyzing the attitudes of Germans towards DC. In addition the data allows for longitudinal and cross-country analysis. Descriptive and inferential methods will be applied.


January – March 2017                   Conceptualization of the study compilation of a study concept

March – September 2017               Data analysis and compilation of report (draft)

October – November 2017             Discussion and review of the report (draft)

February 2018                                     Publication

Quality assurance

The study is accompanied by a reference group which consists of representatives of German DC actors (non-governmental and governmental). In addition two external and one internal peer reviewers provide methodological and contend related expertise and support.


As at: June 2017