Austrian Hub’s Second Evening Lecture on Behavioural Public Policy for Sustainable Development


On 15 December 2021, the Austrian Hub hosted a second evening lecture in its series, by Lucia Reisch (Professor, University of Cambridge) on ‘Behavioural Public Policy for Sustainable Development – With a Focus on Climate Change.’ The online event was once again hosted and moderated by Susanne Augenhofer (Professor, University of Innsbruck and one of the ELI Austrian Hub’s Chairs).

Reisch began by giving the participants an overview of the various organisations active worldwide (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations (UN), etc) that are researching and working on the topic of behaviouralaction policy. She emphasised the importance of an approach that actively supports the preservation and saving of a healthy ecosystem, as global climate change is clearly already underway. Reisch then presented a ‘toolbox’ for demand-sided policy measures, including legislative (regulatory) measures, positive and negative financial incentives, public procurement, and ‘choice architecture’ and behavioural insights (‘nudges’). In her view, public procurement and the use of ‘nudging’ in particular play a paramount role in the given context.

The second part of her presentation dealt with concrete findings from recent behavioural research. Reisch pointed out that there are better models for mapping the decision-making of individuals by considering the multitude of factors that influence our daily decisions. Additionally, for policy makers it is crucial to be clear about the nature of the problem to be addressed by behavioural measures. Therefore, behavioural obstacles to political climate protection measures, such as confusion and misinformation of consumers or the (extreme) polarization of climate change attitudes on the basis of political ideologies, must be taken into consideration in the development of concrete measures.

The presentation was followed by a lively Q&A session with participants.