Sustainability is More Than a Movement: Where’s Behavior?

Dr. Aubrey C. Daniels

SustainabilityWe all know about going green. While we see it as a movement for preserving our global resources, what we don’t see is that it is masses of people changing their behavior for the good of the earth. It is the masses of people and the very specific things they are doing that are making this movement grow and produce the desired effect. Early results have relied on one time events, like changing furnaces from petroleum to bio-diesel, changing from conventional bulbs to florescent and changing toilets to low-flow water usage. While these changes have produced significant savings in the use of oil and water, they have not addressed the area that will in the long run produce the most significant changes in how we live in our world.

All the efforts aimed at being green, sustainability, carbon-neutral and climate neutrality depend on the behavior of many people. Global conservation ultimately requires changing the behavior of several billion people. If you don’t know how to change the behavior of one person, how can you expect to change billions? On the other hand, if you know how to reliably change the behavior of a single person, changing billions just requires that process to be replicated many times over.

Most green initiatives (or any strategic initiative for that matter) lack a scientific plan to identify and create the discretionary effort required to achieve their goals. Sustainability plans of any kind that base their implementation on common-sense notions of human behavior are not sustainable. In order to succeed in any initiative in the most effective manner requires an understanding of how to reliably create an organization that brings out the best in every person. This can only be accomplished by using the knowledge proven by over 100 years of behavioral research.

Human behavior IS one of our renewable resources; one that is most often overlooked and one that can be wasted like any other. Properly cared for it has unlimited potential and is the only resource that can save the planet. Isn’t it time we get serious about behavior?

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Founded in 1978, and headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Aubrey Daniels International (ADI) works globally with a diverse spectrum of clients. We help accelerate the business and safety performance of companies worldwide by using positive, practical approaches grounded in the science of behavior and engineered to ensure long-term sustainability. ADI supports its clients in accelerating strategy execution while fostering employee engagement and positive accountability at all levels of their organization.

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