Engaging Individuals to act Strategically Towards Sustainability

In order to reach sustainability, all parts of the system “individuals within organisations within society within the biosphere” must change. Individuals are major leverage points, and being more efficient in engaging them to act strategically towards sustainability is and will be of critical importance. To explore how to help the engager improve this engagement process, the authors did a broad transdisciplinary literature review; structured their information in a “Five Elements Guide – Structured information to help engage individuals to act strategically towards sustainability”; and used three brief examples to illustrate how to use their results.
Based upon a deeper awareness about determinants of human behaviour and about how individuals change and become engaged, the results are structured into five interdependent elements:
– ‘The Fifth Element’ – Think ‘Systems’.
– ‘Earth’ – Understand yourself and what you want to achieve.
– ‘Water’ – Understand the other’s behaviour and the influence of context.
– ‘Air’ – Understand how change happens.
– ‘Fire’ – Design an approach and perform it.
This structure also allows for the addition of further findings that might be helpful for engaging individuals to act strategically towards sustainability.


1 Introduction
2 Methodology
2.1 Literature review – Data collection
2.2 Data analysis, organisation, and structure
2.3 Finding and analysing illustrative examples
3. Results
3.1 Results of the literature review
3.1.2 Identification of five groups of information
3.2.2 The five groups cover the subject’s scope
3.2 Structuring the information
3.2.1 Three Levels of information
3.2.2 The Five Elements metaphor
3.2.3 The Five Elements Guide
3.3 Think ‘Systems’ – The Fifth Element
What is a system?
Systems thinking.
Change, leverage points, and systems
A Five level Model for planning in complex systems
3.4 Earth – Understand yourself and what you want to achieve
Understand yourself
Understand what you want to achieve
Achieving a lasting change towards sustainability
3.5 Water – Understand the other’s behaviour and the influence of
Overview of factors determining behaviour
Highlighting a few internal factors
Highlighting a few external factors
3.6 Air – Understand how change happens
The illusion of “information Æ attitude change Æ behaviour
How does an individual change?
When is change likely to happen?
What promotes a lasting change?
3.7 Fire – Design an approach and perform it
Take the other 4 elements into account!
A few strategies to guide interventions
Some possible interventions
3.8 Key Information – conclusion
4 Examples
4.1 Futerra’s 10 Rules of Sustainable Communication
4.1.1 Presentation of Futerra and their 10 Rules
4.1.2 The Ten Rules through the lens of the Five Elements Guide
4.2 Global Action Plan
4.2.1 Presentation of the Global Action Plan
4.2.2 Presentation of the EcoTeam programme
4.2.2 Analysis through the lens of the Five Elements Guide
4.2.3 Conclusion of the comparison
4.3 Engaging CEO’s of consulting companies
4.3.1 Presentation of the example
4.3.2 Cycle #1 – Outlining the idea
4.3.3 Cycle #2 – Refining the idea
4.3.4 Cycle # 3 – Some in-depth planning
4.3.5 Concluding thoughts
5 Discussion
5.1 Our Results and the research questions
5.2 Our Results and the 5-level model
5.3 Our results’ strengths
5.3.1 Findings from the examples
5.3.2 Linking diverse areas of knowledge
5.3.3 Easy to use for a diversity of people
5.3.4 A format allowing future evolution
5.4 Our results’ limitations
5.4.1 Scope and depth
5.4.2 Validity
6 Conclusion

Author: Kristoffer Lundholm, Renaud Richard

Source: Blekinge Institute of Technology

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