Posted on November, 12 2020

Using behavioural science for conservation
Human behaviour - including how we interact with nature - is complex, influenced by many different social, economic and cultural factors unique to individuals, communities and nations.

Now help is at hand for anyone keen to take a more scientific approach to penetrating the mysteries of human behaviour.

Bridging the disconnect between rational, fact-based decision-making and emotional or instinctive behaviour, behavioural science is helping civil society organizations, communities, governments, and corporations design strategies and approaches that unlock positive behaviour change, and encourage us to make choices for a carbon-neutral and nature-positive future.

Save Nature Please

To make the fundamentals of behavioural science as accessible as possible for organisations, teams and individuals seeking to drive positive change, WWF has produced a new practical framework, ‘SAVE NATURE PLEASE’, designed to support more effective interventions - from global communications and campaigns to citizen and community engagement.

In its essence, the framework proposes a three-step process - each comprising a flexible menu of subsidiary components - for applying behavioural science to the development, delivery, evaluation, and scaling of behaviour change.

Step 1: SAVE (Scope, Audiences, Vision, Engage) is about researching, gathering evidence, and understanding the problem and objective, the target audience, and vision of the future that inform development of behaviour change strategies and interventions.

Step 2: NATURE (Normal, Attractive, Timely, Uncover, Rewarding, Easy) is about the principles that should guide interventions, including social norms, timeliness and context, and reward.

Step 3: PLEASE (Pilot, Learn, Evaluate, Adapt, Scale, Empower) is about piloting activities, measuring success, adapting and improving, and scaling for impact through collaboration.

Each step is set out in detail in the framework along with an explanation, examples, and recommended tools and approaches for completion, all of which are summarised in a ten-point checklist.

Breaking down the components of human behaviour, identifying behavioural barriers, and applying theory, can provide important insights in designing interventions to change behaviour. Some of the more common tried and tested interventions include:
  • simplifying complex information to prevent information overload
  • modifying the immediate environment, default options, or contextual triggers to influence choices, including those made spontaneously or automatically, and increase the likelihood people act in ways consistent with their values
  • setting specific goals, offering rewards and incentives, and following up on progress to embed change
  • creating new social norms around accepted behaviour to shift collective behaviour.
Realising the full potential of behavioural science to drive sustainability requires systematic application. SAVE NATURE PLEASE offers a starting point, and our hope is that it will support improved understanding amongst colleagues and partners about how to use behavioural science to drive positive change.

The framework builds on many years of research and complements existing platforms such as Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment, IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication, Futerra’s Branding Biodiversity and Change Wildlife Consumers’ Toolkit and Behaviour Change for Conservation online course.

For further information, please contact Denise Westerhout, Markets Practice, WWF International
A behavioural change framework for conservation
Save Nature Please