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11th March 2019
...Continued from Part one

Communication spurs action

Peppered throughout the summit’s discussion of urban water sector challenges and solutions was an acknowledgement of “the human factor” — the ways in which culture, history, and habit influence human behavior and can limit the adoption of water efficiency strategies. Conversation, collaboration, and coordination seek to leverage the human factor in order to make positive and lasting change. Colin Kuehl, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Northern Illinois University, noted that while the data clearly demonstrate the urgent need for water conservation, when working with stakeholders, information is not enough. Through his research in social psychology he has identified a three-tiered communication strategy employing information, motivation, and behavioral skills that most effectively influences behavior change: inform consumers about a water issue or crisis; provide both values-based as well as social norms-based motivation; and provide concrete actions to encourage behavior change.

As Jonathan Baker, an associate with the Analysis Group stated, “what we [did] in the past certainly affects the problems we face right now.” Similarly, what happens now affects the future, and by leveraging the human factor by employing some of the strategies shared at the Summit, the current generation of innovators, researchers, and policy makers have important tools as they get to work shaping a more water-secure future.