Individual behavioural change is important for environmental sustainability, however change must occur at a much larger scale to truly have a meaningful effect on the environment.
Hence, joining a group can bridge the gap between individual action and having significant impact on the societal scale. Belonging to a group with sustainability as a social norm may lead to more active positive behaviours as it increases the sense of social identity. This results in greater empowerment and efficacy in engaging in activities.
There are three types of community participation:
1. Public hearings – community members can voice out their opinion and concerns
2. Stakeholder negotiations – interests of members are considered when formulating and establishing environmental position or policies
3. Participatory planning – members get involved in the process of implementing an environmental programme
These types of community participation allow individuals to engage their behaviours in a group level.
The spread of information within a community is crucial in advocating positive environmental change. Individuals can socialize either face-to-face or through social networks (e.g Twitter, Facebook) to spread the message. Local media can also be involved to bring attention to the issue.
However, we need to realise some individuals in a group are better than others in being able to encourage behaviour change, especially those who have higher status or are largely looked on as trusted sources of information by the community. Hence, it is crucial to elect the right people to successfully promote change in the community.