Environment - Food and Water - Sustainability

Climate-Resilient Water Behavior

Social influence strategies for reducing water demand.

Water is essential for the very survival of our species. It is a key indicator for the existence of life on other planets. Yet, we find ourselves in a time where the phenomenon of water scarcity is becoming increasingly commonplace.

In 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, looked likely to become the first major city in the world to run out of water. Rather than water merely being an invisible resource, we have now reached a point where water end-users must be engaged. It is no longer enough to deliver water efficiently. In places where water flows freely from the tap, it is now vital that we also use water efficiently.

Research from the behavioral sciences provides promising insights into how this may be achieved. Ellin Lede from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Rose Meleady from the University of East Anglia discuss how these insights can be harnessed to develop cost-effective strategies to encourage climate-resilient water behavior in the residential sector.

Social influence is an effective approach that is often underestimated and, as a result, underutilized. Although we may not always realize it, our own behavior is highly influenced by those around us. Three social influence strategies—social norms, social identity, and socially comparative feedback—are identified as potential influencers to potentially reducing water demand.

To achieve a wide influence, it is important that researchers and industry collaborate. The science–practice gap must be bridged if applied and evidence-driven solutions to our water challenges are to be generated.

 

Kindly contributed by Ellin Lede and Rose Meleady.

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