Sustainable Development Misconception Study 2020



Monkeys do better than people in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland on sustainability facts!

We have a brand new test with 18 questions related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which we tested on people in four Nordic countries.

Most humans got 1 to 4 correct answers. They would have scored better if they had closed their eyes and picked answers randomly, as all questions had three answer options which means that the average monkey (or human with closed eyes who don’t know what answers they choose) would pick the right answer every third time, by pure luck, giving them 6 correct answers. 

All four countries did equally badly. 

Out of a possible 18, the average number of correct answers in each country was:

  • Sweden: 3.4
  • Denmark: 3.2
  • Norway: 3.2
  • Finland: 3.1

It was yet more proof that humans suffer from systematic misconceptions on important global facts despite all of this data and these facts being freely available on the internet!


Some of the shocking misconceptions we found included:

  • Many wrongly believe that fossil fuels are no longer the major energy sources.
  • In people’s heads there are 10 times more refugees than in reality.
  • Most have the impression that suicides are becoming more common in the world.
  • Many wrongly think that more than a third of all plastic waste ends up in oceans.


With our heads full of misconceptions such as these, we won’t be able to build a sustainable future. Knowledge should be shared by as many people as possible, if we are to choose the right path to a sustainable planet.


The results from all 18 questions are in the report below, along with a detailed look at the results from each country. The questions are also listed below linking to more information.



Q1 – Extreme poverty in high-income countries

Q2 – Undernourishment

Q3 – Suicide trend

Q4 – Girls in school low-income

Q5 – Female top managers

Q6 – Safe water at home

Q7 – World energy use sources

Q8 – Population in low-income countries

Q9 – Economy from agriculture, forestry and fishing

Q10 – Sexual harassment laws

Q11 – Megacity population

Q12 – Most used raw material

Q13 – Excess heat in oceans

Q14 – Plastic in oceans

Q15 – Endangered or threatened species

Q16 – Refugee share of world population

Q17 – High-income gov revenue from customs

Q18 – Population map today


Swedish version available here