The transition towards Sustainable Development in Ireland demands behaviour change at individual, household, community, business and policy levels. In their Strategic Plan 2013 – 2015 “Working with others for a Better Environment”, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency suggest that they will enable a low-carbon and resource-efficient Ireland by working “with others to build awareness and behavioural changes needed in our homes, communities, businesses and at a policy level” (EPA 2013).

There is a need to build on existing research on behaviour change for sustainable development with in-depth insights into behaviours and practices within the context of where people live and work. There is also a need to find innovative ways to engage the local community and businesses in the co-design of interventions in order to foster participation, ownership and sustained engagement.

Open Practices will use user-centred design research to explore how government interventions in Ireland can create better outcomes for people and businesses in terms of sustainable behaviour and practices.

The research will integrate emerging knowledge on sustainable behaviour and practices with empirical insights from existing Environmental Protection Agency interventions with businesses and communities. The research will build on the literature relating to design for sustainable practices, policy design labs, social and civic innovation alongside the socio-technical, organisational and contextual factors that shape behaviour and practices.

AIMS OF THE RESEARCH

Open Practices is aimed at understanding how the Irish Government and the EPA could help Irish people live more sustainably. It seeks to develop a better understanding of when and how policy interventions informed by behavioural insights should be designed. The primary focus of the research is on areas of resource use in the home and in business that are sources of the most significant environmental pressures. 

An overarching aim of Open Practices will be to see how the EPA can apply these design methods in order to co-design and co-create of innovative solutions (with other parts of government, businesses, the third sector and citizens). Co-design, as a method and context for policy innovation, interweaves emergent and alternative ideas (e.g. new knowledge, desirable visions of future behaviours), new policy practices (e.g. policy labs, practical experiments, ethnographic study) and new social relations (e.g. new networks and actors).

ANTICIPATED IMPACT

  • Improved interventions for Behaviour Change for Sustainable Development in Ireland
  • New dialogue between academics, businesses, policy makers and citizens in Ireland 
  • Improved research capacity in Ireland around Behaviour Change for Sustainable Development (by establishing an interdisciplinary network of researchers) 
  • Increased visibility of the work being developed by the EPA

Key outcomes of the research will be a framework through which policy interventions for sustainable behaviour and practices can be co-designed and an understanding of the extent to which policy makers in Ireland can utilise design practices in the development of policies and interventions.

Further Project details and Project Blog are available on http://www.openpractices.net/

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Adam de Eyto Portrait
Project Coordinator
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Dr. Simon O’Rafferty
Post Doc / Project Manager

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