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ESRA 2023 Preliminary Glance Program

All time references are in CEST

Survey data as a source to study sustainability and environmental issues

Session Organiser Dr Dennis Abel (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
TimeWednesday 19 July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room U6-21

Given the ESRA conference theme 2023 “Survey research in times of crisis: Challenges, opportunities, and new directions”, this session focuses on the fundamental ecological crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, which require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius” (IPCC 2018). The session showcases how heterogeneous methodological approaches in survey-based research benefit our understanding of the socio-ecological transition and systemically link protection of the environment with social goals. Therefore, this session discusses interrelations between social, economic, and environmental risks. The session papers collect case studies researching attitudes and behaviour in different geographical settings and subject areas. These concern justice considerations in energy cooperatives in the European Union, climate change framing in communication strategies, trade-off scenarios for marine spatial planning in the UK, sustainability in the building sector, belongingness of forest-dependent communities in central India, and the green gender gap in Norway.

Keywords: sustainability, global warming, socio-ecological transition

Measuring “willingness to accept loss” in relation to marine spaces: A novel use of the Gabor-Granger approach

Mr Thomas Nickson (Ipsos UK)
Miss Sophie Thompson (Ipsos UK)
Miss Sophie Pizzol (Ipsos UK)
Mr Jose Argudo (Ipsos UK) - Presenting Author

The Gabor-Granger technique is traditionally used in price-testing, to find the highest point that consumers are willing to pay for products. However, in a recent survey about the English public’s attitudes towards marine spaces, Ipsos used this method in a novel way to establish the greatest level of “loss” respondents would be willing to accept in a given scenario. Through five trade-off scenarios, we compared commercial fishing, renewable wind energy generation, and marine conservation zones, to analyse how the English public balance these interests, and what trade-offs they would be willing to accept.

Asked directly to rank the importance of commercial fishing, wind energy, and conservation zones, we were concerned respondents would be led by pre-conceived opinions about each. Fishing, wind energy and conservation are all topics which elicit strong responses in public discussion. Fishing, for example, has been discussed greatly in the context of Brexit within the UK, and wind energy has been shown in extensive research to be a divisive topic. We were interested in exploring how the English public would balance these against each other and their preferences for using marine space, rather than simply knowing whether they “supported” them. Using the Gabor-Granger approach, respondents were made to consider the trade-off between one element over another, and indicate their agreement dependent on one element’s impact on another.

Through this method, we were able to provide evidence around the level of “loss” or “change to the status quo” that the English public are willing to accept in pursuit of renewable wind energy and marine conservation. Therefore, our presentation to this session would discuss why we developed the Gabor-Granger “loss” approach, and what we believe its strengths and limitations have been.

Unearthing the Role of Soil Health in Agricultural Productivity Gaps: Enhancing Evidence Base Through Data Integration and Imputation

Dr Sydney Gourlay (World Bank) - Presenting Author
Dr Talip Kilic (World Bank)

Agriculture is the primary means of livelihood for over 90 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s extreme poor, and thus, improving agricultural productivity is central to poverty reduction in the region. Cross-country research has revealed the importance of closing gender gaps in agricultural productivity as a way to boost aggregate productivity, with female-managed plots being 24 to 66 percent less productive than their male-managed counterparts. However, driven by data scarcity, the role of soil quality in explaining gender differences in agricultural productivity has not been studied rigorously – despite soil health being key to the effectiveness of productivity-improving agricultural technologies. In this paper, we integrate georeferenced data from multiple sources to (i) derive an imputation model for predicting plot-level measures of soil quality at-scale - anchored in existing continental geospatial data and sub-national experimental survey datasets with plot-level objective soil quality assessments; (ii) apply the model to nationally-representative georeferenced longitudinal survey data from Malawi; and (iii) conduct Kitagawa-Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition analyses to determine the contribution of soil health to agricultural productivity differences between male- and female-managed plots. We also provide a comparative assessment of the results obtained by using our imputed measure of soil quality versus the existing continental geospatial metrics. The results reveal that that our imputation approach produces improved estimates of multiple plot-level soil properties, as suggested not only by the increased variation in the soil data across plots, but also by the differential effects of geospatial versus imputed soil properties on agricultural productivity. Furthermore, omission of plot-level soil quality measures is shown to bias decomposition analyses pertaining to gender gaps in agricultural productivity. Our suggested approach to data integration and imputation has the potential to address these shortfalls in future research.

Exploring The Interaction Between Community Meaning And Justice Considerations For Investment Decisions In Local Renewable Energy Projects

Mr Dennis Abel (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences) - Presenting Author
Dr Stefan Juenger (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)

Citizen-led energy initiatives such as energy cooperatives have been growing across the EU to meet the increasing demand for renewable energy generation and distribution. This emergence and the acceptance of local renewable energy projects has been extensively studied. The understanding of the determinants of a turn towards active participation of citizens in these projects, however, remains limited. In this paper, we examine citizens' willingness to invest in renewable energy cooperatives and expand the existing research focus beyond financial and environmental determinants. Building on prior research regarding the links between social norms and justice dimensions for the acceptance of local renewable energy projects (Karakislak et al. 2021), this study highlights the importance of community meaning and justice considerations for energy citizenship. Based on a factorial survey experiment among 9000 citizens from 16 EU countries, this paper investigates the crucial role of community meaning and disentangles the effects of procedural, distributive and recognition justice dimensions for the active participation and investment decisions of citizens in local renewable energy projects. The paper contributes to our understanding of the attitude-behavior link in energy transition research and offers empirical evidence based on a large-n cross-country comparison including European regions which have been neglected in energy transition research so far.

The Use of Survey Questionnaires to Measure Attitudes and Behaviours Related to Sustainable Building Issues

Dr Ana Slavec (InnoRenew CoE) - Presenting Author

The building sector accounts for almost a third of the global final energy consumption and attempts to lower it can have a big impact on the environment. Social sciences have an important role to play in shaping the built environment by conducting research on the predesign and design process and post-occupancy evaluation. In this context, measuring attitudes and behaviours of building users with surveys can play an important role in achieving sustainability goals.

This contribution is based on a systematic literature review that focuses on published research studies that use surveys to examine environmental comfort, energy consumption and other sustainability issues related to building construction and use. The review assesses the quality of contributions and identifies knowledge gaps. Moreover, works that involve specific demographics groups and deal with inequalities are identified. In parallel, an inventory of survey questionnaires and items is generated and a selection of them is assessed with available survey questionnaire evaluation methods. Based on the results improvements of survey research practices to study sustainable building issues are proposed and further research needs are identified.