SMART researcher Dr Juan Castilla will be in New York next week to talk about how we can use behavioural science to promote environmental sustainability.

His invitation to the Nature Sustainability conference comes following his work in Chile building computer models to secure agreement of key stakeholders for water usage in one of the driest valleys of the world.

Dr Castilla specialises in building what he calls ‘management flight simulators’ to bring together competing interests by illustrating the consequences of their actions.

He detailed his work in an article published in Nature magazine in 2017, showing how computer modelling could create co-operation across competing interests, and exploring what conditions were necessary for people to comply with environmental regulations.

He will be part of an expert panel on one day, also featuring Professor Michal Strahilevitz from the University of Wollongong, and will be mentoring research students on a second day.

“The mentoring is the most important component for me,” Dr Castilla said.

“The number of people in this field is not very large, and we are spread out.

“We don’t really know what to do next, so we need to get together and work out a road map for how to best direct our efforts.”

The conference aims to promote the use of behavioural science to change people’s behaviour and act sustainably.

A conference organiser said the field remains fragmented and under-explored across academic disciplines.

“As a result, we’re missing high-impact opportunities to enhance global sustainability because systems-scale design decisions (and) determine the options for a large number of end-users over long periods of time,” the spokesperson said.