First Summit of Development & Environment Behavioural Insights Network (DEBIN)



“If people are the cause for environmental problems, then people are also the solution.”
How can we increase the impact of our efforts to conserve nature? By using insights from behavioral sciences! During the first summit of a new international network, professionals from around the globe met in Stockholm to exchange best practices and ideas on how to join forces.

Behavior change is a hot topic. Many decision makers understand the need for more effective policies and projects. They have all seen wonderful initiatives which resulted in raised awareness but failed to deliver lasting change of behavior.

And more and more policy makers are also aware that behavioral experts can help developing interventions with more impact. But where can they find trustworthy expertise? That question is often more difficult to answer.
On the other side of the table, professionals specialized in the social dimensions of change, are still working in silos. Psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, social marketing: all examples of domains which look for answers to overlapping questions, but are separated by invisible borders.

Connect experts and decision makers to unleash the potential
What if we could bring these disciplines & decision makers together and connect them for a better world? Wouldn’t that be of great value? With this perspective in mind, the Stockholm Environment Institute and RARE sat together and envisioned a peer to peer network of institutions and key experts.


 After a preparatory round table with a small group, the time was right for a first summit. On 26 and 27 October more than fifty specialists gathered in the impressive Maritime Museum of Stockholm and the offices of SEI to learn from each other and explore the potential for collaboration. 


Inspiring examples of the power of behavior change strategies
The first day was packed with powerful key note speeches and sparkling panel discussions about a wide array of sharedchallenges. How can we restore small-scale fisheries with a behavioral approach? Which communication strategies result in eating less meat? – a vital behavior change to combat climate change. And how can governments stimulate energy saving behavior without the so-called backfiring licensing effect? (“I save energy, that’s why it’s ok for me to drive to work instead of taking my bike.”)

Peter Paul van Kempen, vice-chair of Europe for the CEC Steering Committee, presented the work of the commission in the field of behavior change. He highlighted #NatureForAll as example which could benefit from the expertise in the room. Participants were invited to contribute to the movement and also to become CEC members.


User journey mapping to design the new network
The second day participants worked in small groups on case studies, using the insights presented earlier. The plenary exchange showcased that valuable and creative solutions are within hand reach when experts from different social domains collaborate.
How to move forward? To answer this question, participants worked on ‘user journey mapping’ –a service design method - , to explore potential value and activities of the DEBIN network for its members.

The future is bright
Robert Watt, Communications director of SEI and Brett Jenks, CEO and president of RARE closed the first summit painting a bright future for the new network. Enhancing collaboration is expected to result in powerful solutions for development and environment.

More to follow… we will keep you posted!


About the Author

Peter Paul van Kempen is an independent psychologist and co-founder of Frogleaps.org. Peter Paul has a passion for marketing and communication for sustainable development. Until ten years ago, he worked on environmental projects which always had good intentions but often failed to have the promised impact. He became discontented and decided to take up the challenge to find the formula of successful change for conservation. This was an adventurous journey. Luckily he got help from a great mentor, Frits Hesselink, Emeritus Chair of CEC, with whom he co-founded Frogleaps, an expertise platform on human behavior change for conservation. His specialties are understanding motives, decision processes and designing behavior change strategies. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the IUCN Commission for Education and Communication and vice-chair of Europe.

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