New direction in Triple P research looks at harnessing the power of the family

 

An unusual collaboration is looking at whether a solution that has already helped millions around the world can be adapted and integrated to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems.

University of Queensland researchers across the behavioural sciences, engineering, business and marine environmental management are working together with researchers from the newly formed Triple P Innovation Precinct to tackle issues such as food security, sustainability and energy poverty.

“Working through the family, we are seeking to overcome the obstacles currently preventing the successful deployment of reliable, affordable and sustainable solutions for the developing world,’’ Triple P founder, Professor Matt Sanders, said.

As part of this new direction in research, the Triple P team is collaborating with the Global Change Institute (GCI) and the UQ Energy Initiative to apply behaviour change mechanisms to some pressing regional problems.

The first collaboration, an environmental management initiative, applies behavioural principles from Triple P to the Capturing Coral Reef and Related Ecosystem Services (CCRES) project, managed by the GCI, and funded by the World Bank.

CCRES Chief Scientist Professor Peter Mumby said coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds in Indonesia and the Philippines were under threat from human pollution, unsustainable development, overfishing and climate change.

But often, simply educating people about the benefits of cooperation and the science behind sustainability failed to change the way these communities interact with their environment.

The second collaboration brings together behavioural parenting researchers with engineers form the UQ Energy Initiative to examine how clean cook stoves can be successfully deployed within India to prevent diseases caused by household air pollution.

The International Energy Agency estimates that 2.7 billion people lack access to clean cooking and heating technologies, a number which includes an estimated 1.3 billion people without access to electricity.

UQ Energy Initiative Director Professor Chris Greig said the Initiative had recognised a transdisciplinary approach was needed for the past two years.

He says a behaviour change program that targets a family’s motivation for using cleaner stoves could change the community’s norms for cooking technologies.

Both collaborations are being led by John Pickering, Head of Innovation and Engagement, from the Parenting and Family Support Centre.

After a recent trip to Selayar, a remote island in Indonesia, as part of the CCRES project, Mr Pickering said initial research was encouraging.

“The single strongest message that came through when we spoke with these communities is that people want the best for their children and don’t want to see them go through the same hardships they had,’’ Mr Pickering said. “They want their children to have a better education, better health, better quality of life and they’re motivated to work with us to shape the solution.’’

This story first appeared in UQ’s new magazine for investors of change, Changemakers.