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Green behaviour through rewards

Associate Professor Ari Tarigan from the Department of economics, safety and planning is part of a group of researchers from Polish and Norwegian universities that was awarded almost 2 million euros for their project “Greencoin”, an interactive system that will promote environmentally friendly behaviour among citizens through a reward system.

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Left to right: Hanne Cecilie Geirbo from Oslo Metropolitan University, Ewa Duda from The Maria Grzegorzewska University, Malgorzata Romanowska (or Gosia) from Inicjatywa Miasto Association (front), Jakub Zawieska from Warsaw School of Economics (back), Ari Tarigan from University of Stavanger, and Kacper Radziszewski (Principal Investigator) from Gdansk University of Technology. Photo: Private

The project proposal was conceived as an interdisciplinary project bringing together researchers from diverse fields, but the formation of the consortium was done through the IdeaLab approach.

Last year, the IdeaLab workshop brought together almost 40 researchers, entrepreneurs and activists from Poland and Norway selected from almost 200 applicants. The theme of the workshop was "Cities for the future: services and solutions". During five days of activities participants were put together into several different tasks to exchange experiences and enable a flow of ideas. This helped participants to get to know each other. After the first four days, a group came up with the concept of Greencoin, and formed a group whose competences fit in the best way possible the project’s interdisciplinary scope.

Ari Tarigan explains how he got involved in the project:
“Believe it or not, I heard about the Greencoin idea during my breakfast with Gosia , an urban planning expert from Warsaw. At first I was still unsure about Gosia’s idea – I just listened – but after some hours of discussion, I realised that her idea was brilliant and that it can be really meaningful for making our cities more sustainable and livable. Then, I decided to fully support her idea, and during the same time, Kacper Radziszewski from Gdansk University of Technology also joined the small consortium. The three of us did our best to improve the concept and the next day another five people from different institutions in Poland and Norway decided to join us.”

Kacper Radziszewski, the project lead, explains that the concept behind Greencoin is quite simple and that the simplicity of the concept was important for the evaluators:

“We plan to introduce an alternative currency which will be granted to the citizens based on their behaviour and its positive impact on the environment. The Greencoin system will be based on the currently available technologies, yet it is possible to adjust as technology advances. We hope that Greencoin can help shape the habits of current and future citizens, creating healthier and more environmentally friendly communities around the world.”

In order to enable the Greencoin system, the project will work closely with key urban stakeholders (residents, private sector and policy makers) in a Polish city, which will function as the living lab for the pilot project. For Ari Tarigan, there is no doubt that the IdeaLab format is a productive way to address societal challenges:

“IdeaLab is a unique way to challenge scholars, activists, and policy makers to collaborate in seeking solutions for future cities’ problems. Rather than competition and advancing our own agendas, IdeaLab requires participants to think what expertise and skills they can bring to the table to create solutions. IdeaLab is a very exhausting but very rewarding process if we want to work across disciplines and sectors in order to bring more societal impacts from our research.”

Ari Tarigan, two PhD students, and one Postdoc researcher will be involved in the project from the University of Stavanger. The project period is three years.

Greencoin

Greencoin is an interactive system to promote pro-environmental behaviours among citizens. The Greencoin system will reward citizens for ecologically conscious behaviour and the accumulation of the rewards point can be used to purchase environmentally friendly products. The project will be customised to the Eastern European context where there is an urgent need for significant transformation towards pro-environmental lifestyles. The project involves a nine-month pilot study in a Polish city, which will be announced shortly.

IdeaLab

The IdeaLab workshop was organized by the European Economic Area (EEA) and Norwegian Financial Mechanism. The goal of IdeaLab is to develop ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research project ideas for services and solutions for cities in 2040. The IdeaLab workshop is part of the Programme ‘Applied Research’ operated by the National Centre for Research and Development under the EEA and Norway Grants, and is prepared in cooperation with the Research Council of Norway.