All areas of the European Green Deal, from climate action to zero pollution, require considerable changes in societal practices and in the behaviour of individuals, communities, and public and private organisations. These changes concern, for example, mobility behaviour, minimising traffic-related emissions and energy/resource consumption, protecting or restoring biodiversity, etc. including changes achieved through collective and participatory processes or a sense of environmental citizenship and climate justice.
Several foci of behaviour and mind-set are at play in interconnected ways: concerns for: personal health and well-being; for the planet; for decent work; for fairness and solidarity, etc. Ways of combining individual, collective socio-economic and environmental benefits should be sought wherever possible.
Disadvantaged and vulnerable social groups and groups and communities most affected by the transition need special attention. Their existing practices, for example, may combine environmentally friendly, circular habits with practices that are detrimental to both their own health and to the environment (from dietary choices, mobility and travel behaviour to inappropriate use, reuse and disposing of materials), but to which they see no feasible alternatives.
Actions should address behavioural change at individual and collective levels, including public and private organisations, as well as broader changes in social practices related to the European Green Deal. Actions should establish transnational and transdisciplinary networks of experts, researchers, practitioners and relevant civil society organisations on behavioural, social and cultural change. They should jointly analyse social practices and behavioural change processes, including enabling as well as inhibiting factors, share good practice, tools and resources and implement relevant experimentation on priority issues to deliver on the European Green Deal. They should build on existing experience, notably stemming from EU-funded projects.
Actions should include several experimental studies, each implemented in at least four Member States and/or Associated Countries. Specific topics for case studies should be co-decided with the European Commission services involved in implementing the European Green Deal. They should support major EU actions where such change is key, including – but not limited to – Horizon Europe Missions, in close cooperation with the respective mission boards, and other R&I initiatives.
Successful projects are expected to contribute to specific impacts, including:
- structurally enhanced research and innovation capacities in this area, through structured transdisciplinary expertise, research and practice networks of the highest ethical and methodological standards across Europe;
- more effective and inclusive action on the social and behavioural aspects of the European Green Deal, by achieving a more nuanced view of mindset, incentive structures and social and behavioural change mechanisms, including enabling as well as inhibiting factors for various groups and communities, through the lens of transdisciplinary research that integrates historical, cultural, societal, economic and psychological perspectives;
- behavioural change and long-term commitment, trust, social acceptance and buy-in from people, communities and organisations, through effective new strategies to induce this, including innovative recommendations and incentives that consider differences between EU regions and social groups e.g. in terms of urgency perceptions;
- improved management, inter alia, of the uncertainty derived from climate change through bottom-up approaches;
- greater societal resilience against climate change and environmental crises, and as well as contributions to effective just transitions;
- changed behaviour at both individual and collective levels, among citizens, communities, businesses, workplace, decision makers and institutional actors;
- in the longer-term, systemic change at the level of political and economic structures, culture and society and contribution to one or several of the Sustainable Development Goals
26 January 2021