Defra 4Es model

Defra’s Framework for Sustainable Lifestyles (published October 2011) sets out an approach to understanding and influencing behaviour. The framework provides evidence-based insights on the motivations and barriers to action and approaches to influencing behaviour.  

The framework provides an overview of what the evidence shows on waste prevention - why people are acting and why they are not. 

The focus is on understanding behaviours in their lifestyle context - starting where people are and understanding the way people live.  

There is no single solution to influencing behaviour. To assist in the design of programmes, the 4Es framework provides a tool to ensure a mix of interventions:

Enable – making it easier: provide people with the support they need to make responsible choices (e.g. by building food waste champions, and providing cookery courses).

Encourage – give the right signals: understand and offer the benefits to change which are as important as providing regular feedback (e.g. using members of the public as case studies, providing food waste diaries to record progress, prize draws and equipment trials).

Engage – get people involved: involve people early on so that they understand what they need to do – help them develop a sense of personal responsibility. Work with the grain of lifestyles and through trusted partners and intermediaries to develop ‘social norms’ (e.g. printed media and PR, and using businesses as intermediaries to host events).

Exemplify – local authorities need to lead by example: Review internal policies and take action to ‘exemplify’ the same behaviour.

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Influencing behaviour is most effective when your approaches are combined across these four broad categories.

For information and case studies on using the 4Es framework, view the PowerPoint presentation “A brief how-to guide for using the 4Es to influence behaviour