Issues in Brief, No. 40, September 2020

Changing Conservation Behavior by Changing the Behavior of Conservation Programs

By Kira Sullivan-Wiley
September 2020 (8 Pages)
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The interdependencies of environmental and social systems, as recognized by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), create opportunities for pursuing simultaneous improvements in several areas, such as climate, food, water, nutrition, and health. But significant challenges remain in the conservation sphere, where integrating social and environmental goals will require large-scale changes in individual behavior. In this Issues in Brief, Kira Sullivan-Wiley explores how conservation organizations are at the forefront of efforts to improve environmental and human well-being, but are still not adequately integrating social sciences, and especially behavioral sciences, into these efforts. Incorporating behavior change science into these organizations’ operational practices, she argues, could be among the most effective, lowest-cost means of achieving conservation and development goals without infringing on the rights of local populations.

Kira Sullivan-Wiley is an environmental social scientist who studies how environmental behavior is shaped by environmental cognition, social and biophysical context and dynamics, and interventions. Sullivan-Wiley’s work aims to improve the human condition through a healthier human-environment system, focusing specifically on people with resource-based livelihoods who are often at the intersection of environmental and economic interventions. She is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.