A large majority of people around the globe believe billionaires should contribute to and help close the funding gap for the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, a report from Global Citizen and Dutch research agency Glocalities finds.
Based on a survey of nearly twenty-seven thousand people in twenty-five countries, the report, World Calls Upon Billionaires to Contribute in Times of the Corona Pandemic (14 pages, PDF), found that 81 percent of respondents believe billionaires should make a charitable gift (46 percent) or pay a wealth tax (35 percent) to help fund efforts to achieve the SDGs 2030, which were unanimously adopted in 2015 as a global framework for improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring sustainable economic growth while addressing climate change and conserving oceans and forests. The percentage of respondents who said billionaires should help close the $400 billion annual funding gap ranged from 64 percent in Japan and 69 percent in the United States, to 80 percent in China and 88 percent in Spain, to 93 percent in Indonesia.
Among the 33 percent of respondents who support the World Health Organization and find its work to be "appealing," 89 percent said billionaires should help fund the SDGs by either donating (53 percent) in support of the agenda or by agreeing to a wealth tax (37 percent). WHO supporters tended to prioritize SDG 3, good health and well-being for all (39 percent), as well as the related goals of clean water and sanitation (34 percent), ending poverty (33 percent), quality education (33 percent), and climate action (31 percent). The call for more billionaires to step up comes at a time when public financing for the goals is coming under increasing strain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report's authors note.
The survey also found that respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 were more likely to say billionaires should donate (53 percent) in support of the SDGs than to say they should pay a wealth tax (29 percent), while support for a wealth tax increases with age: respondents between the ages of 55 and 70 were as likely to favor giving in support of the SDGs (42 percent) as a wealth tax (42 percent). Respondents who were "fans" of Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist Jack Ma were more likely to favor charitable giving over a wealth tax (61 percent vs. 29 percent), as were "fans" of Donald Trump (52 percent vs. 29 percent), compared with those of Pope Francis (48 percent vs. 40 percent), Michelle Obama (47 percent vs. 40 percent), or Bill Gates (53 percent vs. 33 percent).
"There are more than two thousand billionaires worldwide who have immense financial means that can make the difference in assisting governments and health workers fight the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences," said Glocalities research director Martijn Lampert. "Now the world population calls upon them to show their true colors and step in to save lives. Health workers, citizens, governments, and international organizations cannot overcome the current crisis alone. All talents are needed for supporting society and ensuring a sustainable future. The time has come for billionaires to make a positive difference and pay their fair share."
"Philanthropy can step in and plug huge critical gaps," Michael Sheldrick, chief policy officer at Global Citizen, told Reuters. "The COVID-19 [crisis] is an example of that. You've seen this upsurge in philanthropy, and our hope is that we can channel this into funding the SDGs more broadly."