Routes to positive action for sustainability in outdoor sports

Prince, Heather ORCID logo ORCID: (2022) Routes to positive action for sustainability in outdoor sports. In: 10th International Mountain and Outdoor Sports Conference, 23-26 November 2022, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. (Unpublished)

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Research evidence suggests that having a psychological connection to, or spending extended time in the natural world are precursors to people’s development of an emotional commitment to the environment. Embodied and active participation as experienced in outdoor sports has been shown to affect a person inwardly to the extent that they are more disposed to alter their behaviour to care for the environment and make sacrifices to engage in sustainable practices. Raised awareness is insufficient for positive action and research has shown that solely increasing knowledge does not result in behavioural change. Individual outdoor sports enthusiasts should reflect on their values- action orientation, feel empowered to act and be convinced that any action individually or collectively will result in positive change. There are many variations in the strength of factors influencing people’s motivation to change such as antecedent variables, attitudes and motivation as well as culture in its widest sense. There is sometimes resistance to change particularly if individual mindsets or habits are at risk or threatened until the inefficacy of practice is challenged beyond doubt or there is a threshold event that is catastrophic and forces a reappraisal. ‘Eco-phobia’, pessimism or ‘action paralysis’ can cause stasis or negative outcomes.

Behavioural commitment to positive action is often also a question of cost, convenience and effort. Research has shown that whilst choices made in the home may reflect pro-environmental behaviour, they are not necessarily translated to recreational, travel or adventure opportunities. Pro-environmental behaviour may also be related to other agendas and identities such as frugality, ethics, health and wellbeing. Routes to positive action for outdoor sports enthusiasts may embrace incremental or gradual change, as identified in the ‘Net Positive’ theoretical framework. Examples of this include different ways of moving, being and exploring the outdoors such as ‘slow travel’ that might enable a closer relationship with an environment. Acting as a role model or mentor particularly for those in leadership roles in the outdoors can be effective. For those more familiar with the lived experience of outdoor sports, the shared endeavour of a group not only increases social capital but it also allows group members to embrace behaviours that are regarded as norms in relation to environmental beliefs and attitudes, which has shown to be influential in the uptake of environmental practices. Outdoor sports can provide an opportunity to value our relationship with, and empathy towards, the environment as illustrated through Cooper’s framework of awareness, empowerment and commitment. Outdoor experiences can be inspirational and as lived and often shared experiences, they can precipitate the adoption of sustainable practice and pro-environmental behaviour. It is a complex process but one which we cannot ignore.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Departments: Institute of Science and Environment > Outdoor Studies
Depositing User: Heather Prince
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2022 10:25
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2024 14:16


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