B4 Development makes giant strides in 2021
By Dr Fadi Makki, Director, B4 Development
Two major events have shaped the last year for B4 Development: Qatar’s FIFA World Cup preparations and the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the year, we ran experiments during the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 which aimed to increase recycling and reduce littering. Salient reminders in stadiums helped to reduce littering by 18%, while call-to-action prompts improved fans’ correct use of recycling bins by 12.5%. Other experiments gauged and increased willingness to commit to sustainable behaviour and improve the fan experience, which continued to be the focus in interventions conducted during the FIFA Arab Cup, which was held in Qatar from 30 November to 18 December.
One of our main goals is to support various tournament issues which have behavioural components, such as transport and recycling. Our objective will be to help Qatar deliver an optimum fan experience for the million or so visitors the country is expecting to welcome during the tournament. Notably, this will be the first time that behavioural science will have been used during a mega-event such as the World Cup. Subsequently, our work will provide valuable lessons learned for future host countries, including the US, Canada and Mexico, who will co-host the next edition of the World Cup in 2026.
We will continue to work closely with the football for development initiative Generation Amazing in an effort to further enhance the effectiveness of its programmes – which are active in more than ten countries around the world. In particular, we will integrate behavioural insights into every aspect of the project, which aim to increase youth engagement, promote inclusion and encourage healthy lifestyles. Generation Amazing practitioners have already seen the value that nudges can make in the delivery of these programmes and make them even more impactful for thousands of people around the world.
We also expect to intensify our collaboration with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in 2022. During this year, we worked alongside the MOPH to boost vaccination rates and encourage people to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation strategies. Several tools were used and tested. For instance, we had success in reducing vaccine hesitancy by updating people’s perception of the correct social norms regarding support for vaccine uptake. We also tested, with considerable success, the impact of other tools in reducing hesitancy, including the effect of messengers and emotional appeals.
Recently, we began supporting the MOPH in relation to its collaboration with the World Health Organization to make the next FIFA World Cup a beacon for physical and mental health promotion, and also a model for ensuring future mega sports events are healthy and safe.
Also, in 2021, capacity building for other stakeholders was prominent on our agenda. We helped the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa launch the MindLab Behavioural Insights Unit within its Department of Finance. We supported on institutional aspects of the set-up and capacity building – in line with our core objective of spreading the power of behavioural science throughout the region.
Organising the latest BX Arabia conference, in November, was part of our broader work on disseminating behavioural insights to a wider audience. The conference again brought together leading experts in the behavioural science field and was streamed online to an audience of hundreds.
As the world gets used to a ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic, we also expect to focus keenly on mental health projects. Countries around the world require special and targeted support in this area – which will present a number of complex issues. There is no doubt that behavioural issues stand in the way of people seeking help – and we will be creating experiments to counteract this.
Finally, we will continue to build partnerships with regional and international organisations, including UN bodies, academic institutions and NGOs – particularly those focused on the global south. We have many lessons learned to share with partners and others. Our various publications and events such as BX Arabia will continue to support in this regard.
In short, we expect to be very busy as we continue to make an impact on behalf of behavioural science in Qatar, the region and around the world.