Report Urges Behavior Change for Nature Conservation
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Titled, ‘Behavior Change for Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners,’ the report offers 15 behavioral strategies and numerous case studies aiming to address today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The proposed strategies are broadly categorized around the need to motivate, socialize, and ease the change.

March 2019: Expanding the traditional environmental toolkit of regulations, taxes, and awareness campaigns to include behavioral insights can enhance practitioners’ ability to achieve lasting change, according to a recent Rare report, which details behavioral approaches to addressing environmental challenges.

Titled, ‘Behavior Change for Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners,’ the report offers 15 behavioral strategies and numerous case studies aiming to address today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The authors explain why the daily decisions and actions of individuals and communities around the world are central to conservation outcomes, on the basis of five main categories of conservation threats: habitat loss and degradation; overexploitation; illegal wildlife consumption; human-wildlife conflict; and pollution. For each of these areas, they identify a number of target audiences and target behaviors that could help to mitigate ecosystem losses.

The authors discuss the merits and shortcomings of three key approaches: legislation and regulation; market forces and material incentives; and awareness and education. They also highlight three fundamental insights from behavioral science: the need to focus on non-conscious as well as conscious drivers of behavior; the need to focus on the setting of our behaviors as well as internal motives and drivers; and the need to focus on behaviors rather than solely beliefs, attitudes or intentions.

The authors then propose 15 strategies, broadly grouped under three categories, which capture the main drivers of behavior change:

  • motivate the change, by harnessing the right incentives, emotions, and cognitive biases;
  • socialize the change, leveraging the deeply social nature of our behavior; and
  • ease the change, by removing hassle, helping people plan, and building supporting environments.

The report then demonstrates how these ideas can be applied in the real world, through hypothetical and real case studies of tackling illegal wildlife trade and overfishing.

The report is published by Rare’s Center for Behavior and the Environment and the Behavioral Insights Team. [Publication: Behavior Change for Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners] [Publication Landing Page] [SDG Knowledge Hub Guest Article on Behavioral and Cognitive Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation]

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