UCL Grand Challenges


Connecting behavioural economics and environmental sciences

A project seeking insights on willingness to pay for environmental benefits across spatial scales.

1 September 2021


Grant: Grand Challenges Small Grants
Year awarded: 2021-22
Amount awarded: £4,980


  • Dr Silvia Ceausu, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research
  • Dr Lorenzo Lotti, Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources

Environmental policy presents particular challenges because it addresses issues that happen over large spatial and temporal scales. Policy-makers and practitioners are required to plan and implement actions that can take place thousands of kilometres away with results that might only be felt after decades. Therefore, it is not surprising that mobilising actors to address the most urgent global challenges can be difficult. 

Behavioural economics can provide useful insights on behaviours and decision-making related to the environment. For example, it can provide insights on individuals’ willingness to pay for environmental benefits that are produced at large-scale and therefore are less tangible and immediate than local benefits. This objectives for this project are to:

  • design and run a survey to test whether Londoners’ willingness to pay for local environmental benefits is higher compared to that for large-scale benefits, thus investigating the role of tangibility and scale in the willingness to pay for environmental benefits.
  • initiate a cross-disciplinary dialogue between UCL’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER), Behavioural Environmental Economics Team (BEET), and London-based environmental organisations on how behavioural economics can support environmental action.

The research activities of the project will specifically aim to provide knowledge for supporting more effective communication around environmental issues, and give critical insights on how to mobilise action for global and long-term challenges such as climate change

Outputs and Impacts

  • Awaiting outputs and impacts.