How do People Behave towards the Environment? A Case Study of South Sumatra Province, Indonesia

Author: Marpaleni Marpaleni

Marpaleni, Marpaleni, 2019 How do People Behave towards the Environment? A Case Study of South Sumatra Province, Indonesia, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) declared in 2007 that human behaviour plays a major role in global warming and climate change (IPCC, 2007). However, information about how people behave towards the environment and what constraints they face to foster environmentally friendly behaviour (EFB) in their daily lives is limited. This thesis is based on a study aimed at filling this gap in knowledge by introducing a measure to monitor the level of environmental behaviour of the people of South Sumatra Province of Indonesia. Environmental behaviour is defined as people’s daily activities that could help sustain natural resources by promoting resource conservation and waste reduction. The environmental behaviour index (EBI) is a composite index based on an initial group of 30 variables at the household level, grouped into six dimensions: (i) food consumption, (ii) housing, (iii) energy use, (iv) water use, (v) mode of transportation and (vi) waste management. The study is based on interviews with representatives of 490 statistically selected households in South Sumatra during August to October 2016. The environmentally friendly and non-friendly status of the people is decided by applying a two-thirds rule to the EBI based on data reduced by factor analysis to 15 variables and five dimensions. The concept of the two-thirds rule is adapted from Alkire and Foster (2011), who used it to define human well-being by means of a well-being index. In the present study, an EBI of 66.67 or greater on a scale of 0 to 100 (where 66.67 is two-thirds of the distance between 0 and 100) indicates environmentally friendly behaviour. The analysis of data reveals that, on a scale of 0 to 100 the overall EBI is less than 50, indicating that the people of South Sumatra are, on average not friendly to the environment. Further investigation revealed that almost 80% of the respondents scored an EBI below the friendliness line of 66.67. This shows that the state of environmental behaviour at the household level in South Sumatra is a cause for concern, as most households still behave in unsustainable ways. Among the dimensions of EBI, mode of transportation has the lowest EBI, while at the same time it contributes the most to the creation of the index (EBI). Hence this dimension needs to be improved the most. Disaggregated by demographic characteristics, this study found that women, urban dwellers, respondents of small-sized households and the elderly were more environmentally friendly than people of other demographic characteristics. Among lifestyle characteristics, respondents spending less on food, non-food and the combination of food and non-food, respondents who did not smoke and the respondents who had access to the internet were more friendly towards the environment. Focus group discussions (FGDs) with smaller groups of respondents revealed that people had a negative attitude towards EFB as they felt that EFB was inconvenient, non-urgent, and there were other important things in life. They thought that, as long as they kept their own houses clean, it was the responsibility of other people or government agencies to keep the community environment clean. The FGDs also suggest that economic constraints, lack of public facilities, absence of knowledge and awareness as well as weaknesses in law enforcement are barriers that hinder the adoption of EFB.

Keywords: environmentally friendly behaviour, environmental behaviour, environmental behaviour index (EBI), friendliness line, factor analysis, South Sumatra, Indonesia, sociodemographic, theory of planned behaviour, attitude, subjective norms, perceive behavioural control, Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI), Ogan Komering Ulu Selatan (OKUS), Lahat, Palembang, Musi Banyuasin (MUBA), Susenas

Subject: Environmental Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Associate Professor Gour Dasvarma