Learning from across the social sciences to inform evidence-based demand reduction strategies

This symposium was held at the 2017 ICCB conference and was organised by Dr Diogo Veríssimo (John Hopkins University) and Professor EJ Milner-Gulland.

The unsustainable trade in wildlife is increasingly recognised a key threat to biodiversity. Efforts to mitigate the impacts of this trade have historically focused on curtailing supply through regulation and enforcement. While the extent of success of such measures is a matter of debate, a consensus has emerged that without a focus on the demand side of the trade, any attempt to limit it to a sustainable level will fail in the long run. As influencing demand for wildlife products entails understanding and changing human behaviour and societal norms, the methods needed are within the realm of the social sciences. This can be a barrier to conservationists, who may not be aware of the potential for different fields to contribute to demand reduction research and intervention.

This Symposium brought together professionals from across the social sciences to showcase approaches used in their fields to influence human behaviours. The speakers covered academic fields such as psychology and economics, whose goal is to better understand human decisions, as well as applied fields such as social marketing, that have a wealth of knowledge on how to design, implement and evaluate behaviour change interventions. By bringing together researchers and practitioners in fields that are still not well integrated within conservation science, this symposium fostered a wider adoption of social science among those working to manage demand for wildlife products. The symposium was also aimed at those interested to influence human behaviour or better integrate social science into their research.

Symposia topics:

  • Reducing demand for wildlife: how are we doing?
  • Using methods from economics to understand consumer preferences for wildlife.
  • Applying social marketing to reducing demand for wildlife – three campaigns experiences.
  • Designing positive bear bile reduction campaigns for Chinese tourists.
  • Conservation criminology approaches for managing demand for wildlife products.