On 24 May 2019, the World Innovation Symposium on Human Behaviour: In Pursuit of Achieving the SDGs discussed how knowledge gained from behavioural science can help to address social challenges and realise the SDGs. Participants discussed how such insights are gradually being mainstreamed into policymaking. The symposium was co-organised by UNU-IAS and the Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ), together with the Behavioural Sciences Team (BEST).
In opening remarks Takaaki Katsumata (Parliamentary Vice-Minister, MOEJ) underlined the importance of working with various stakeholders to deepen understanding of behavioural change. Kazuhiko Takemoto (Director, UNU-IAS) highlighted the role of behavioural science insights in solving multiple issues in society through building policies and taking action, and stressed the need to share these insights.
A keynote lecture by David Halpern (Chief Executive, Behavioral Insights Team and National Advisor on What Works, UK) introduced ways of applying behavioural insights to achieving the SDGs, including testing to figure out effective actions and leveraging the effects of social norms. He encouraged policymakers to continue building an evidence-based system to improve policies. Another plenary speaker, Masanobu Ogura (Member of the House of Representatives, Japan) emphasized the role of statistics, guidelines, and institutions in improving evidence-based policymaking.
Panellists outlined opportunities for combining behavioural insight and technology through targeted nudge approaches, and challenges related to quality data, the importance of shifting from quantity to quality, and more testing using technology to improve strategies. A panel on “circulating and ecological economy” considered the rising importance of the SDGs in the private sector, including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) finance, local policies, and platforms to introduce nudges, and possibilities for applying nudge theory to clean energy, water, sanitation, health, and education.
Participants recognized the importance of applying the nudge concept and how it can advance achievement of the SDGs and societal change, in areas such as de-carbonization, lifestyle changes, and improved well-being.
Presentations from the event are available to download on the MOEJ website.