Friday, June 8, 2012

From behaviour to environmental policy and back

On May 4 2012, DG ENV/DG SANCO organized a workshop “From Behaviour to Environmental Policy, and Vice Versa” with the goal to explore the available scientific evidence about behaviour and the most recent behaviour-driven policy applications with a special focus on the environment. Oksana Mont, representing the European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production at the European Environmental Agency and the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University, Sweden, contributed to the workshop with presentation. Oksana argued that information provision as the main tool of the current SCP policy is insufficient to affect consumer behaviour. The change has to be systemic lead by pro-active policy making and supported by infrastructure that enables sustainable lifestyles, by business models furthering sustainable consumption patterns and levels and by changes in peoples’ values. In instigating the necessary change, framing of messages of SCP policies is vital: in addition to emphasising the personal benefits of consuming more sustainably, policymakers need to strengthen the appeal of collective, pro-environmental and pro-social goals thereby paving the way for and embedding sustainable societal values. New SCP policies will be more efficient and effective in changing values when introduced within the windows of opportunity offered by the evolving focus of the public debate. Oksana further underlined the importance of dispelling the persistent myths that have penetrated the mainstream policy and discourse on sustainable consumption. She highlighted deliberative democracy, choice architecture and social marketing as essential, but underutilised mechanisms for advancing sustainability. In conclusion, Oksana emphasised the need for strategic roadmaps to operationalise emergent visions of sustainable societies.

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