Guide for Reducing Desire for Ivory,
a collaboration with WWF
Renee’s groundbreaking research book, Environmental Melancholia: Psychoanalytic Dimensions of Engagement, is now available as an eBook or in paperback.
This book provides a comprehensive approach to understanding the challenges of engagement and the potential for new strategies.
For those working to reverse ecological crises and innovate solutions, the greatest untapped resource is a deep understanding of human behavior.
It is time to fully comprehend how people feel, experience, come to terms with, and act in our ecologically fragile world.
Knowing how people relate to change enables us to engage, mobilize, and inspire positive action.
The single most important challenge for those working on the front lines of environmental restoration, protection and conservation, is reaching our target audiences. This may be our shareholders, employees, students, neighbors, leadership. It is our job to connect. Engage. Inform. Move. Mobilize.
Despite the astounding number of warnings from scientists, documentaries, environmental education programs, and the tireless and ongoing efforts of countless environmental organizations around the world, we have yet to see the type of widespread action necessary to overcome the threats we face.
Those of us in the environmental field are working to shift the course we’re on to support a more viable, healthy, and liveable planet. We are all, in different ways, in our different fields, trying to address the most crucial issue of our time:
How do we inspire people to change?
And how we inspire this change is directly linked to how we think about this problem. The way we view the challenges we face and our ability to solve them has a huge impact on our behavior.
Because underneath all of our frameworks, theories and strategies are assumptions about people – how people behave, act, feel, and change. Are we wired for short-term thinking? Do we need to focus on values or specific ideological messaging? Can we grasp abstract, systemic issues? Do we need to provide clear actions for people to take?
My work (from research design to brand strategy and everything in between) reflects the belief that when we reduce what is at stake by simply measuring costs, benefits and incentives, we are doing ourselves a great disservice.
Our understandings of the human have grown exponentially over recent decades. We now know that is is affect — our feelings and experiences — that drive our behaviors. It is time to replace outmoded ideas about rationality and cost-benefit analysis — that humans act on what they know — with one that is full enough to take into account our competing desires and aspirations as human beings. Messier, more complex, but juicier, vivid, full of aspiration, challenges and unlimited creativity.
I apply this insight as an applied researcher and consultant, collaborating with an international network of colleagues across the academic, business, government, and public sectors, to bridge the divide between the psychological practice, sustainability communications, and strategy worlds.
At the core of my work is the premise that we are wired to problem solve, to be effective, and to connect with our world.
But, we must also acknowledge that our profound grief, loss, and concern about the state of our world (our rivers, oceans, soil, forests, urban parks, city streets and wild creatures) deeply affects our behaviors in every aspect of our lives.
Without a doubt, each one of us has an innate capacity and aspiration to fix, repair and heal. This ability is our greatest untapped resource. I am interested in how we can best support, facilitate and enable our greatest potentials to be tapped.
However, engaging without smart and skilful psychological and social insight drastically limits our ability to make measurable and significant progress.
That’s where I come in.
With over twenty years of practice in environmental communications, psychological research, and experience bridging private and public sectors, I offer resources, expertise and strategy for those working on the front lines of environmental stewardship.
Whether it’s in branding, serving as an in-house researcher or designing campaigns, I take you and your team’s work to a deeper level, ensuring that how you engage and connect with your stakeholders is smart, effective and psychologically skilful.
I work with teams and organizations to rapidly ramp up internal expertise, capacity for skillful engagement and resourcing for professionals to delve deeper into human insights and deliver more accurate and authentic results. You can see examples of my work here.