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 2018, a key focus of the conference was retrofitting and expanding the regulatory ‘toolbox’ to include behavioural science.

BWA’s contribution

BehaviourWorks presented work carried out with EPA Victoria exploring the drivers, barriers and influences affecting peoples’ decisions to comply, or not comply, with environmental regulation.

Dr Stefan Kaufman and Dr 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 into 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 at the beach when water quality was low, 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 ended the day with a workshop on how behavioural insights can be better integrated into the regulator’s toolbox. 

Reflecting on the conference, Stefan, Nick, Liam and Jim were to see the behavioural sciences being ‘front and centre” at the AELERT conference, and are looking forward to the collaborations and exchanges that follow.  

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