Events, Our research

Staying AELERT to regulation

New tools for old problems

Every two years, environmental law practitioners, regulators and people working with regulated communities come together and share experiences, knowledge and expertise at the AELERT (Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators network) Conference.  

Held in Sydney in February this year, a key focus of the conference involved retrofitting and expanding the regulatory ‘toolbox’ to include the behavioural sciences, and this is where BWA came in, presenting work carried out in collaboration with EPA Victoria under the theme of Headspace and exploring the drivers, barriers and influences affecting peoples’ decisions to comply or not comply with environmental regulation. 

First off, Stefan Kaufman and Nick Faulkner spoke about ‘high octane regulation’ and their work encouraging fuel retailers to make sure their fuel storage wasn’t leaking: targeted messages and self-evaluation checklists resulted in fuel retailers buying in to the regulatory process and encouraging voluntary compliance.  
Liam Smith spoke about a multi-year program of work (which also involved Life Saving Victoria) that focused on using the behavioural sciences on a series of projects to discourage people from swimming in poor water quality conditions, while Jim Curtis shared some lessons from other jurisdictions about introducing a general duty in legislation to prevent harm to the environment and human health.  

Stefan Kaufman (who is working with BWA on secondment from EPA Victoria) ended the day with a workshop on how behavioural insights can be better integrated into the regulator’s toolbox, and kick started a ‘social and behavioural science in regulation interest group’ to pursue this topic, share learnings, and foster new research collaborations to deliver improved compliance outcomes.  

Reflecting on the conference, Stefan, Nick, Liam and Jim were excited at seeing the behavioural sciences being ‘front and centre” at the AELERT conference, and are looking forward to the collaborations and exchanges that follow. It was also a great opportunity to showcase some of the BWA and EPA Victoria collaborative projects, highlighting the value of the ongoing partnership.    
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