Green nudges : exploring the use of behavioural insights to accelerate the transition to sustainable development in South African municipalities

Gerrans, Lorraine (2020-03)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Natural resources form the basis of economic activity and are essential for life and well-being. Functioning ecosystems provide environmental goods and services that are essential to sustain human life. However, the global demand for environmental goods and services is beginning to outstrip supply. A number of authoritative studies warn that humanity is living beyond our ecological means. The transition to more sustainable systems of production and consumption therefore needs to be accelerated urgently. Structural issues including the way the neoliberal Western economic system views the environment, and the scale and complexity of the environmental problems, affect the pace of the transition to sustainable development. Policymakers increasingly understand that addressing the most pressing environmental issues requires behaviour change, also by individuals. However, people sometimes struggle to make the necessary changes in their day-to-day lives that will, collectively, have noticeable impact or reverse environmental decline. Even when people are aware of the need to change their behaviour, they remain faced with a host of psychological and social barriers to actually adopting pro-environmental behaviours. Calls for pro-environmental behaviour change necessitate a deeper understanding of human motivation, judgement and decision-making. Behavioural science challenges the assumption of rationality as a foundation for the analysis and prediction of human behaviour. Behavioural science studies have shown that humans have “bounded rationality”. People do not always have access to all the necessary information for making fully informed decisions. Many decisions also are the product of automatic, unconscious processes of which our rational brains are hardly aware. Behavioural insights can improve public policy by taking into account what actually motivates human behaviour and decision-making and directing it towards pro-environmental outcomes. This study aimed to synthesise behavioural insights from behavioural science research to inform public policy at local government level in South Africa. The objective was to increase the probability of success of public policy aimed at pro-environmental behaviour change through the application of behavioural insights and tools such as “green nudges”. The methodology of the study was a literature review, as well as a review of secondary studies and experiments centred on behavioural science theories affecting human behaviour change, with the aim of identifying insights that may be used by local government in South Africa to improve public policy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Natuurlike hulpbronne vorm die basis van ekonomiese aktiwiteit en is noodsaaklik vir lewe en welstand. Funksionele ekosisteme lewer omgewingsgoedere en -dienste wat noodsaaklik is om die menslike lewe te onderhou. Die wêreldwye vraag na omgewingsgoedere en -dienste begin egter die aanbod oorskry. 'n Aantal gesaghebbende studies waarsku dat die mensdom buite ons ekologiese middele leef. Die oorgang na meer volhoubare stelsels van produksie en verbruik moet dus dringend versnel word. Strukturele kwessies, insluitend die manier waarop die neo-liberale Westerse ekonomiese stelsel die omgewing beskou, en die omvang en kompleksiteit van die omgewingsprobleme beïnvloed die tempo van die oorgang na volhoubare ontwikkeling. Beleidmakers verstaan toenemend dat hoe om die dringendste omgewingskwessies aan te spreek, gedragsverandering vereis, ook deur individue. Mense sukkel egter soms om die nodige veranderinge wat gesamentlik 'n merkbare impak sal hê of omgewingsverval sal keer in hul daaglikse lewens te bewerkstellig. Selfs wanneer mense bewus is van die noodsaaklikheid om hul gedrag te verander, word hulle nog steeds gekonfronteer met 'n magdom sielkundige en sosiale hindernisse tot aanvaarding van werklike omgewingsgedrag. Oproepe tot verandering in omgewingsgedrag vereis 'n dieper begrip van menslike motivering, oordeel en besluitneming. Gedragswetenskap rig ‘n uitdaging aan die aanname van rasionaliteit as 'n basis vir die ontleding en voorspelling van menslike gedrag. Gedragswetenskaplike studies het naamlik getoon dat mense “begrensde rasionaliteit” ervaar. Hulle het nie altyd toegang tot al die inligting om volledig ingeligte besluite te neem nie. Baie besluite is ook die produk van outomatiese, onderbewuste prosesse waarvan ons rasionele brein amper nie bewus is nie. Gedragsinsigte kan openbare beleid verbeter deur wat menslike gedrag en besluitneming eintlik motiveer in ag te neem en dit op pro-omgewingsuitkomste te rig. Hierdie studie het ten doel om gedragsinsigte van gedragswetenskaplike navorsing te sintetiseer om openbare beleid op plaaslike owerheidsvlak in Suid-Afrika in te lig. Die doel is om die waarskynlikheid van sukses van openbare beleid wat op verandering in omgewingsgedrag gerig is, te verhoog deur die toepassing van gedragsinsigte en -instrumente soos groen “nudges”. Die metodologie wat vir die studie gevolg is, was 'n literatuuroorsig, sowel as 'n oorsig van sekondêre studies en eksperimente gerig op gedragswetenskaplike teorieë oor hoe menslike gedragsverandering beïnvloed word, met die doel om insigte te identifiseer wat deur plaaslike regering in Suid-Afrika gebruik kan word om openbare beleid te verbeter.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108240
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