NIUA IDEATHON – Nudging Civic Behavior towards an Environment-Friendly Delhi

The National Institute of Urban Affairs organised an Ideathon on the topic ‘Ideathon on ‘Nudging Civic Behavior towards an Environment-Friendly Delhi’ to invite ideas and strategies to be considered under the Master Plan of Delhi 2041. Our students from CUPG participated in the contest, and devised innovative ideas to address several concerns of urban governance, sustainability, policy, and civic participation. Students were divided into groups, with each group assigned specific problems to work on.

Here is the first installment of students’ experiences from their participation in the contest.

Topic: Segregating Solid Waste at Household Level

Team Members: Aadya Saxena, Aishwarya Dixit, Goutham Raj Konda, S. Prema Swarupa and Simran Pal Kaur.

We understand that an effective strategy for managing waste has to start with segregation of solid waste at the source of generation but this challenge has yet not achieved a holistic solution. Using the concept of the ‘nudge theory’, based on influencing how people think and behave, we aimed at improving people’s default decision-making for waste segregation among the residents of Delhi through a realistic approach.

We strategised to nudge community level accountability in order to foster household and community level waste segregating behaviour. We proposed to create smaller wing communities by grouping the society with 5 or 6 households. We proposed both positive and negative nudges with the belief that people often like to be conformists and that they often function with moral obligations.  The positive nudges were: celebration of the occasion of installation of dual dustbins to remove ideas of disgust associated with it; involving the children in the process; rotation of responsibility of families every month to keep a check on segregation and using space-intensive bins in low-income neighbourhoods while simultaneously reducing dumping in the drains. The negatives nudges were: listing out the households in notices displayed on public information boards, serving letters to their homes for not segregating waste, highlighting the consequences of not segregating waste on their community and environment during the community meetings. Our strategy was based on the understanding that environment knowledge, moral obligation and perceived behavioral control will influence the attitude and  separation intention which will prompt people to build a waste separation behaviour. However, this strategy has to persist regularly to be effective and achieve the goal of waste segregation.

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In our course- Urban Policy and Governance, we have often critically discussed the Master Plans and have realised the significance of citizen engagement.  Participating in this Ideathon was a good opportunity for us to brainstorm together and build on the learnings that we have had in our classes. Our course has often allowed us the space to experiment and ideate together for group work and helped us to improve our capacities to think clearly through classroom discussions. Our understanding of subjects such as sanitation and solid waste management, further bolstered our confidence to think about the topic.  We saw this Ideathon as a chance to begin influencing some decision making in the procedure of planning for our cities to make it more sustainable and socially equitable ones.  It was also an enriching experience to learn from the other teams about their ideas. The open discussion at the end of the session also helped us reflect on our ideas and opinions further.

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