Monday, 24 December 2012

Concerns and capabilities lead to action

The AgDialogue process Motu recently ran was designed to create a dialogue amongst agriculture sectoral groups, government, academics and individual farmers around dealing with New Zealand’s agricultural GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. One of the outcomes of this discussion was the creation of a matrix to describe how we can get action on wicked problems such as lowering agricultural GHG emissions: who can act and what can they do.

In this short video, Suzi Kerr explains the thinking behind the matrix.

Below is the matrix. Rather than being a large computer programme set up to create an alternate reality, the AgDialogue matrix is really a simple way of visualising what Suzi explains in the video.

Basically, an action intended to help reduce our agricultural GHGs can fit into one or more of the boxes in the matrix. The ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) for example, would fit into the top right box, as a national level regulation designed to incentivise emission reductions. The Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Center would fit in the top-middle box.

However, as Suzi points out in the video, we need adequate concern and capabilities as well as regulations to reward good and penalise poor behaviour. By using the AgDialogue matrix, we can identify who could undertake actions, and what these actions could aim to achieve. When we have populated it with a set of existing actions, if there are any gaps, we can come up with creative ways of filling in these gaps – as we did through AgDialogue.

A piece of research, done by Taciano Milfont at Victoria University of Wellington backs up the thinking behind the matrix. Importantly, his research was carried out in New Zealand – something that is very valuable as we often have to rely on research coming from larger countries, and apply their findings here.

Using data from a one year study, Taciano concludes: “Knowing more about global warming and climate change increases overall concern about the risks of these issues, and this increased concern leads to greater perceived efficacy and responsibility to help solving them.”

Taciano’s research paper can be found online for free here.
A special thanks to former Motu Research Analyst Zach Dorner for drafting this post.

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