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Weathercocks and signposts

1 April 2008

WWF's Strategies for Change Project is a new work stream which contributes to the growing debate about how best to effect environmentally-friendly behavioural change. In particular, the project examines the importance of our collective social values in driving behavioural change, and the ways in which such values are shaped.

Although much of the public debate on environmentally friendly behavioural change focuses on strategies for directly influencing 'private sphere' behaviour (an individual's choice of light bulb, or mode of transport, for example), this project also looks at the underlying drivers for change in government and business.

For example, the Project is working to identify, and help circumvent, the barriers that many public figures encounter when they try to broaden public debate and move beyond a narrow pre-occupation with short-term economic arguments for tackling environmental problems.

The Project is also interested in the stories we tell ourselves about who we are – the 'myths we live by'. These myths can be very important in shaping our collective aspirations and fears – what do we strive for in life, and how do we want to live? Under the Project, WWF-UK has convened a series of meetings between environmentalists, depth-psychologists and marketing executives, to ask whether the environmental problems that we confront can be tackled from within the constraints imposed by today's dominant myths. Is it time that these myths were upgraded? And is there any possible role for the techniques of the marketing industry in helping to achieve this?

Weathercocks and signposts: the environment movement at a crossroads
As our understanding of the scale of environmental challenges deepens, so we are also forced to contemplate the inadequacy of the current responses to these challenges. By and large, these responses retreat from engaging the values that underpin our decisions as citizens, voters and consumers: mainstream approaches to tackling environmental threats do not question the dominance of today's individualistic and materialistic values

Weathercocks and Signposts critically reassesses current approaches to motivating environmentally-friendly behaviour change. Current behaviour-change strategies are increasingly built upon analogy with product marketing campaigns. They often take as given the 'sovereignty' of consumer choice, and the perceived need to preserve current lifestyles intact. This report constructs a case for a radically different approach. It presents evidence that any adequate strategy for tackling environmental challenges will demand engagement with the values that underlie the decisions we make – and, indeed, with our sense of who we are.

For more information, please contact:
Dr Tom Crompton,
Change Strategist,
WWF-UK
Panda House,
Godalming
GU7 1XR.
UK

Email: tcrompton@wwf.org.uk
Telephone: 0777 6467553
Skype: tom_crompton

Weathercocks and signposts - Strategies for change report

Man and dog running on beach