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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Organization News PhD Defences BSS

Bringing community and environment together

The role of community environmental initiatives in sustainability transitions
PhD ceremony:Mr D. (Daniel) Sloot
When:April 22, 2021
Start:09:00
Supervisor:prof. dr. E.M. (Linda) Steg
Co-supervisor:dr. L. (Lise) Jans
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Bringing community and environment together

Community environmental initiatives, for example those promoting sustainable energy, are rising in popularity. These initiatives are typically set up by a few volunteers with the aim to motivate the entire local community to behave more pro-environmentally. But can community environmental initiatives contribute to the sustainability transition? Or are those who participate already more likely to engage in pro-environmental behaviour because they personally find it more important?This PhD thesis first examined to what extent and why involvement in community environmental initiatives can promote pro-environmental behaviour, next to personal motivations.Second, it examined which factors motivate people to become involved in community environmental initiatives. The results show that those involved in a community environmental initiative are more likely to engage in sustainable behaviours, even when taking into account their personal motivation to engage in this behaviour. People who are more involved in a community environmental initiative are also more inclined to act for the community. This suggests that community environmental initiatives can benefit the environment and the community.

Second, we find that people do not only want to be involved in a community environmental initiative when they are more motivated to protect the environment, but also when they are (or want to be) more involved in their community. This implies that community environmental initiatives can appeal to people who find caring for the environment not that important, but who do care about being involved in their community. Thus, community environmental initiatives may motivate those less motivated for the environment to act more pro-environmentally.

In sum, social factors thus play an important role in the success of community environmental initiatives, and these initiatives can contribute to a transition toward a more environmentally sustainable future with a stronger sense of community.