‘weiter_wirken’ — Increasing Impact

Communicating Sustainability Successfully

Two thirds of German citizens indicate that living an environmentally friendly and socially just life is very important to them, according to Umweltbundesamt (2018). However, such intentions only rarely translate into action, a phenomenon not limited to Germany, but rather known in research as the intention-action-gap. Given that consumption and lifestyle patterns are key factors behind social inequality and climate change, it is crucial to address this gap effectively. Specifically, the discrepancy between intention and action highlights an urgent need for strategies aimed at fostering sustainable lifestyles through a better understanding of behavioural science and human cognitive biases.

A survey conducted by the CSCP confirms that, while civil society organisations (CSO) recognise the negative social and ecological impact resulting from unsustainable lifestyle behaviours, the majority of them do not systematically incorporate insights from behavioural science into the design of projects and campaigns aimed at changing such behaviours.

The project weiter_wirken (Increasing Impact) focused on addressing this gap in innovative and effective ways. Building upon the success of our international programme, the Academy of Change, weiter_wirken offered a comprehensive capacity building programme to CSO leaders of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). The programme provided participants with the insights, tools and knowledge needed for successful, sustainability-oriented behaviour interventions. This way, weiter_wirken offered a unique professional development journey, training individuals to become leaders in the design of high impact activities and projects aimed to foster sustainable behaviour.

The programme included practices for a better understanding of target groups; models and tools for action-oriented implementation of measures; successful and target group-specific communication approaches, and possibilities for impact measurement. Another focus of the training was supporting CSOs to apply the acquired knowledge into real-life projects encouraging peer exchanges.

“The training was lively and entertaining. My project and I have grown and we are now repositioning ourselves in the organisation.”, noted one of the project participants.

The weiter_wirken programme was conducted in two rounds for two different groups: in summer 2020 and in 2022. While all workshops were moderated by the CSCP, external experts complemented the programme. Following the completion of the programme, the project partners and the participating organisations built a motivated network to exchange experiences and promote sustainability further.

weiter_wirken is a cooperation project between the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), ecosign / Akademie für Gestaltung and the Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung Nordrhein-Westfalen.