In an earlier post, we asked the question “What is Government’s role?” when it comes to forcing the behavior changes that will be required to get people to conserve resources. The discussion threads on that post debated whether government should reward good behavior, or punish poor behavior.
As a follow up, I thought it would be interesting to explore examples of government working to encourage good behavior. (I’m sure we’ll get to examples of government punishing bad behavior as well.)
To begin with, here’s an example of what seems to me to be a great example of government working to encourage industry in a positive way.
In Singapore, the government put out a Challenge Call to industry to submit “breakthrough / disruptive technologies” in the area of Seawater Desalination.
One of the major impacts from global climate change is its expected impact on water supplies around the world. The blog A New Green Earth has been documenting how these issues are already impacting certain areas of Australia. The government in Singapore has has challenged industry to respond with proposals, and it’s offering real money to those with the best ideas.
Challenge Call For Innovative Technologies In The Domain Of Seawater Desalination
The Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI), under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), Singapore, was set up to spearhead the growth of the environmental and water industry in Singapore. With the support of agencies like the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the PUB, EWI is committed to invest in research & development in the areas of environment and water.
EWI is now calling for PRELIMINARY research proposals with breakthrough / disruptive technologies to meet the following challenges:
* Production of drinking water that meets World Health Organisation (WHO) Drinking Water Guidelines
* Total energy consumption of 1.5 kWh/cu.m or less
Closing Date: 2 November 2007 (noon, 1200h, Singapore Time)
Note: This is a live challenge. It will be interesting to see what the results are.
Another example of the government encouraging good behavior was the recently completed Federal Electronics Challenge. This challenge gave awards recognizing government agencies which helped “improve its sustainable practices when purchasing, managing and disposing of their electronics assets”.
Finally, let’s look at how government can work to directly impact the behavior of individuals. Here’s a good example of two ways to approach a problem.
The City of San Diego, California has a problem sourcing water for its citizens. It responded by issuing a challenge to them to reduce their water use. They asked San Diegans to reduce their water consumption by 20 gallons per day and provided information to help them do so.
Now compare this to the situation in Australia where the government is sending letters to individuals who are using too much water and threatening fines if they don’t change their behaviors.
What do you make of these issues/approaches? How much should government get involved?