‘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 (2019). However, such intentions only rarely translate into clear action, a phenomenon not specific 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 efficiently. Specifically, the discrepancy between intention and action highlights an urgent need for a better understanding of behavioural science and human cognitive biases. A survey conducted by the CSCP confirms this: While NGOs 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’ (Nachhaltigkeit Erfolgreich Vermitteln/Communicating Sustainability Successfully) focuses on addressing this gap in innovative and effective ways. Building upon the success of our international counterpart, the Academy of Change, ‘weiter_wirken’ offers a comprehensive capacity building programme to representatives from NGOs in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Using insights from behaviour and communication sciences, participants are trained on how they can design and communicate sustainability-oriented behaviour interventions in the most effective way. Additionally, ‘weiter_wirken’ aims to establish a long term network allowing participants continuous collaboration and the opportunity to exchange experiences, discuss challenges, and share their knowledge.

Following a call for applications in summer 2020, around 30 representatives of NGOs from the NRW region are invited to participate in the training programme. The programme is set to start in autumn 2020 and will be conducted in the form of four full-day, in-person workshops at different locations in NRW. Topics covered include, but are not limited to:

  • Insights and theories from behaviour change and communication sciences in the context of sustainable behaviour change
  • The importance of understanding one’s own target audience when planning projects, and how to accomplish this
  • Models, tools, and interventions that can be used to foster sustainable behaviour
  • Guidance and instructions on how to successfully run a pilot intervention and evaluate it

While all workshops are run by the CSCP, there will be support from external speakers as well. Following the completion of the programme, participants in leadership roles from both the project partners as well as participating organisations will take part in a final nationwide event in summer 2021 to discuss results and ways forward.

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.