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Behavioural, social and cultural change for the Green Deal, ID: LC-GD-10-2-2020
All areas of the European Green Deal, from climate action to zero pollution, require considerable changes in societal practices and in the behaviour of individuals, communities, and public and private organisations. These changes concern, for example, mobility behaviour, minimising traffic-related emissions and energy/resource consumption, protecting or restoring biodiversity, etc. including changes achieved through collective and participatory processes or a sense of environmental citizenship and climate justice.

Several foci of behaviour and mind-set are at play in interconnected ways: concerns for: personal health and well-being; for the planet; for decent work; for fairness and solidarity, etc. Ways of combining individual, collective socio-economic and environmental benefits should be sought wherever possible. Disadvantaged and vulnerable social groups and groups and communities most affected by the transition need special attention. Their existing practices, for example, may combine environmentally friendly, circular habits with practices that are detrimental to both their own health and to the environment (from dietary choices, mobility and travel behaviour to inappropriate use, reuse and disposing of materials), but to which they see no feasible alternatives. Similarly, differences of perception (in different regions of the EU, among different social groups, across genders and various age groups) of the urgency of the climate change and other environmental issues, on the most appropriate measures needed and hence also on the urgency of related behaviour change, need focused attention. Other categories of actors have to face challenging dilemmas, such as economic agents bearing major additional costs, adaptations or even phasing out of their activities due to Green Deal requirements. In such cases, individual change should be addressed in the context of the collective benefits and cost-sharing arrangements of the Green Deal and it should be associated to broader structural measures to support affected groups. Addressing these issues requires research and experimentation on behavioural, social and cultural change across Europe, founded on transdisciplinary expertise and strong ethical and methodological standards. Moreover, these actions should be accompanied with comparative research and feedback to ensure continuous monitoring and learning, foresee robust impact evaluation methods and take account of possible trade-offs, unintended consequences or rebound effects.

Actions should address behavioural change at individual and collective levels, including public and private organisations, as well as broader changes in social practices related to the European Green Deal. Actions should establish transnational and transdisciplinary networks of experts, researchers, practitioners and relevant civil society organisations on behavioural, social and cultural change. They should jointly analyse social practices and behavioural change processes, including enabling as well as inhibiting factors, share good practice, tools and resources and implement relevant experimentation on priority issues to deliver on the European Green Deal. They should build on existing experience, notably stemming from EU-funded projects.
Actions should include several experimental studies, each implemented in at least four Member States and/or Associated Countries. Specific topics for case studies should be co-decided with the European Commission services involved in implementing the European Green Deal. They should support major EU actions where such change is key, including - but not limited to - Horizon Europe Missions, in close cooperation with the respective mission boards, and other R&I initiatives.

Vulnerable and marginalised people, minorities and various age groups, including both youth and the older generation, as well as various skill and income groups and urban, peri-urban and rural areas, should be considered in analysis and included in experimentation, with methods and tools adapted to the target groups. Gendered issues should receive specific consideration. Change at the workplace and future of work related issues should also be addressed, including teleworking, as well as change in and by collective entities such as the behaviour of businesses and social partners and their shift towards sustainable business models, the behaviour of public services and other organisations - in the context of broader political, social and economic or financial dynamics, where relevant.

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