LEEP Seminar series - Brendan Fisher - University of Vermont

Behavioral Science and Conservation: can behavioral economics deliver on sustainability goals - Brendan Fisher - University of Vermont

A Research Services seminar
Date29 October 2020
Time16:00 to 17:00
PlaceThis event will be online by Zoom

Brendan is a Professor at the University of Vermont. His research focusses on the valuation of ecosystem services, and the role of behavioural economics in shifting people towards pro-environmental behaviours. His work has appeared in many of the top journals, including Nature, Nature Climate Change and Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.

Human behavior has, and continues to, greatly impact our planet, and compromise the integrity of our climate and ecological systems. A suite of traditional approaches are in place to try to mitigate the impacts of individual or collective decisions on biodiversity and ecosystems, or to incentivize behaviors for better outcomes. Such approaches rely on an understanding of behavior as the result of rational decisions, albeit by sometimes ill-informed agents. These include taxes, fines, fees, payments, education, quotas, minimum standards and so on. Understanding the impacts of these approaches has largely been the role of economics and policy evaluation. Yet, increasingly we understand human behavior to be the result of a more complex decision-making process than merely a benefit-cost analysis, and therefore insights from behavioral science have delivered another set of potential approaches for nudging human decisions and resultant behavior. Such approaches are believed to often be cheaper to deliver and more palatable to those affected (e.g. better than taxes). Here we review some of the evidence regarding behavioral science-inspired approaches to mitigating the effects of large-impact, large-externality behaviors, highlight some successes of such approaches, expose some gaps in our evidence base, and then offer a framework for thinking more broadly than typical approaches of incentivizing individual producers and consumers. While the evidence of behavioral science-inspired approaches to mitigating human impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems is scant, the scope for such approaches to work is large, and largely untested.

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OrganizerLand, Envrionment, Economics and Policy Institute

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