Voluntary programmes: how to adapt to context?

Voluntary programmes and commitments aim to enhance your target group’s engagement with energy issues and create social support and pressure for change in energy use patterns. Usually, your target group will strive to meet some targets and is acknowledged for doing so. They can help to reduce the following problems:

  • Lack of engagement with energy saving
  • Lack of social pressure and support for energy saving

Commitments and voluntary programmes aim to increase people’s sense of responsibility for changing their routine and habitual energy behaviours, although they might also change their efficiency investment behaviour as a result.

What you need to do: 

In order to fit such programmes to your context, you should:

  1. Fit the programme to the opportunities and obstacles in your target group's context
  2. Select relevant targets (timely, necessary, your target group can make a difference about them)
  3. Allow your target group scope to decide on actions, but provide sufficient advice
  4. Ensure peer support and pressure, clear benefits of participating
  5. Anchor to local networks and practices to ensure durability of changes
When does it work?: 
  • The target setting process has to be open and transparent.
  • The roles, responsibilities and consequences of the commitments need to be clear
  • Voluntary programmes require the adoption of new roles and responsibilities, and hence need advice and support.
  • Good communication channels need to be established and maintained.
  • Networks among participants are important sources of learning, information exchange and motivation, and support the success of the programme.
What do you need to look out for: 

► Negotiated agreements are more effective if they include supporting instruments and regulations
► For commitments by households and individuals, positive incentives and combining goal-setting with feedback are essential
► Voluntary programmes require goal-setting, measures to reach the goals, and monitoring and reporting schemes