This post is written by Joanna Yarrow, Founding Director of Beyond Green
It was an honour to speak at this year’s Ashden Conference, setting the scene for the 2012 Ashden Awards which celebrate the best in “practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives”.
My task was to set the scene for the day. So I gave a whistlestop tour of how we might go about shaping cultures & behaviours to become more sustainable.
Starting with the observation that sustainable living is still a bit like teenage sex (everyone says they’re doing it, but you suspect they’re not, and even if they are they’re probably not doing it properly – an old but good analogy…). I set out a few simple rules of thumb, drawing on observations of my work with various people, organisations and places. These included:
- relate to things people care about anyway (most of us aren’t scientists);
- provide opportunities for personal experience & an emotional connection (including my own personal experiences of growing up in Wilderness Wood and behavior change projects such as my BBC series Outrageous Wasters);
- harness the power of doing something to inspire further change (as in the Ariel Turn to 30 campaign);
- recognise diversity – understand the ‘essence’ of a person, organisation or place and develop solutions to suit (particularly important when working with organisations or whole communities);
- raise people’s sights: inspire, lift the benchmark, open horizons (wouldn’t it be great if we could take everyone on a reality tour of the most sustainable places in the world?);
- celebrate the upside of down, focusing on the benefits of living in a more sustainable way;
- make sustainable behaviour easy & attractive;
- walk the talk (actions speak louder than words) then remember to talk the walk;
- don’t wait for the perfect strategy – get on with something to create momentum, learning opportunities and champions; and
- provide the right context & support for more sustainable behaviours
You can read more about my talk and the rest of the events in this blogpost by IIED’s Suzanne Fisher Murray
Applications for next year’s Ashden Awards are now open – click here for details