A blog for World Environment Day 2022, highlighting the importance of better understanding human behaviour to achieve sustainable outcomes.
Sustainable technologies mitigate the environmental issues caused by human activities - solar panels, electric cars, energy-efficient LED lighting, the list goes on...
But for these technologies to achieve the sustainable outcomes they were created for, they rely on humans to use them.
This year’s World Environment Day calls for “collective, transformative action on a global scale to celebrate, protect and restore our planet." Often, many of the solutions we rely on focus heavily on technological solutions to protect and restore our planet. However, underpinning this, is the need to better understand human behaviour to ensure there is uptake of these technologies.
To provide examples of the importance of behavioural insights in finding solutions to environmental issues, we have chosen three projects we have worked on with our partners that apply behavioural insights to achieve sustainable outcomes:
Working with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), we explored the influences, actions, and needs of NSW aquaculture farmers to use available biosecurity risk preparedness and resilience systems and technology.
By applying behavioural insights, we were able to inform NSW DPI on farmers’ attitudes, knowledge, motivations, and enablers and barriers to take up biosecurity risk management activities, and therefore, inform what further support was needed for the farmers to effectively adopt these activities, promoting biosecurity risk management.
To improve waste separation in hospitals, we worked with Sustainability Victoria (SV) and the Department of Health to better understand how we can increase recycling and decrease waste management costs in hospital operating suites.
In partnership with three Victorian hospitals, we engaged directly with key hospital stakeholders to explore what influenced nurses to properly separate waste into hospitals’ three-bin system, which included the recycling stream, general waste stream, and clinical waste stream - for contaminated waste.
By collecting behavioural insights, we were able to better understand the influences on nurses’ behaviours and hosted a co-design workshop with each hospital to come up with specific intervention packages that would promote better waste separation behaviour within their operating suites.
To help Agriculture Victoria effectively engage and collaborate with a broad range of farmers, and agricultural businesses, we conducted a study with Victorian farmers to identify how they make decisions and what actions they have implemented to manage their energy use, costs, and risks.
As part of the Victorian Government’s Agriculture Energy Investment Plan (AEIP), this project aimed to assist and engage with the agriculture industry to improve production, investment, skills, and promote new energy technologies development in the future.
We found that sentiments of farmers were positive and managing energy use, costs, and risks was a critical part of farm decision-making. Farmers were doing more than what was just required within industry, as they saw it as good farm practice in terms of animal welfare/productivity, product quality, production efficiencies, and reducing greenhouse gases. However, these ambitions can be constrained by a combination of financial, technology, and knowledge limitations. Thus, we provided a set of recommendations for Agriculture Victoria’s consideration to help them overcome these limitations.
This year, we consider how we aim to achieve big changes in environmental impact. At BehaviourWorks Australia, we see understanding human behaviour as a key driving force that underpins many of the solutions to fixing global environmental issues.
To help us better understand the importance of understanding human behaviour, Stefan Kaufman has kindly sat down with us to answer some questions you may have, in this short video.
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