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  • Report
  • 4th Apr 2019

Behavior Change For Nature: A Behavioral Science Toolkit for Practitioners

Key findings

  • Conservation threats - from habitat loss to the illegal wildlife trade - are behavioural challenges. We along with @Rare_org present new strategies for addressing these issues.
  • Incentives and regulations don't always work in wildlife conservation - but behavioural insights provides a new set of tools to help protect our ecosystems.

We are fortunate to live in a world filled with both an abundance and diversity of life. Yet the growing scale and impact of human behaviour pose a grave risk to the natural world in irreversible ways. Deforestation, overfishing, ocean plastics, biodiversity loss, and climate change are increasingly threatening the livelihoods, health, and well-being of people as well as the species and places we know and love.

Past and current efforts in facing these challenges have tended to rely on a standard toolbox that enacts regulations, provides financial incentives or disincentives, and raises awareness about the dire consequences of our actions. These tools have merit – and are sometimes the most effective approaches we have. But oftentimes enforcement is difficult or ineffectual, payments for conservation outcomes can backfire, and information or education efforts come up against our biases, denial and wishful thinking. Behavioural science can provide a far more realistic understanding of what works, in the real world.

In this report, co-written by the Behavioural Insights Team and the conservation charity Rare, we expand the conventional toolkit and argue for a greater focus on how our cognitive biases, emotions, social networks, and decision-making environments all impact our behaviours and choices. We provide 15 concrete tools for conservation and sustainability practitioners, and the methodologies for putting them into practice, to achieve (and evaluate) real change.

Download the full report


Toby Park

Principal Advisor, Head of Energy, Environment & Sustainability

Carolin Reiner

Advisor, Energy & Sustainability

Kevin Green

Senior Director, Center for Behavior & the Environment at Rare

Katie Williamson

Associate, Center for Behavior & the Environment at Rare

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