Community behavior change in China

sustainable development goal icons.


As the country with the world’s largest population and greatest greenhouse gas emissions, China has a critical role to play in mitigating climate change.

China’s top consumption categories that contribute to climate change include food production, household energy, transportation, and waste management. Sustainable environmental practices, like reducing food waste and adopting more regenerative agriculture, can help mitigate the country’s greenhouse gas emissions when China’s 1.4 billion people adopt them.

For more than fifteen years, Rare has worked with strategic partners in China to foster individual environmental behavior change in China. Using behavioral insights, we help individuals, communities, and businesses across China implement solutions that help reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Promoting the highest-impact behavioral solutions to global warming in China


Individuals, households, and communities have the power to accelerate progress towards China’s carbon neutrality by changing their consumption patterns. As Rare’s strategic partner, Rare China Center for Behavior works to lower barriers and foster individual action that mitigates greenhouse gas emissions. The team’s three-step approach includes identifying top sustainable behaviors, establishing community-led behavior campaigns, and creating an index to track climate behaviors over time.

Rare China Center for Behavior is currently conducting a pathway analysis of sustainable behavior changes with the highest potential to reduce carbon emissions across diverse age groups and audiences. Findings from our research will help Rare support the growth of a more positive climate culture in China.

Pride on our Plates

Chinese restaurant workers learning about food waste
A Pride on our Plates workshop focused on tackling food waste in China’s restaurants.

Rare China Center for Behavior’s most successful ongoing behavior-change initiative is Pride on our Plates, a program launched in 2020 to help restaurants adopt sustainable practices that curb food waste. 

China wastes more than 38 million tons of food annually, making food waste one of its greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. In pilot cities across the country, Rare’s toolkit of behaviorally informed solutions helps restaurants reduce waste and create new social standards for sustainability.





Past pride campaigns protecting China’s wildlife and habitats

Rare trains local conservation leaders all over the world to improve the way communities interact with nature. Our “Pride campaigns” use emotional appeals and social marketing to inspire people to take pride in local species and habitats, while also adopting alternatives to environmentally destructive practices.

The campaigns often center around a charismatic flagship species that becomes a symbol of local pride and acts as a messenger to build support for habitat and wildlife protection. Marketing tools such as billboards, posters, songs, and puppet shows generate pride and public stewardship for community members of all ages.

In China, Rare worked with local partners to develop over 25 projects across 11 provinces to help communities adopt positive behavior change for nature. Some of our greatest successes include:

Conserving the Laojunshan Nature Reserve in Yunnan Province

From 2003 to 2005, Rare partnered with the Nature Conservancy’s Angela Cun to create a Pride campaign that inspired community-based conservation in the Laojunshan Nature Reserve. With the Yunnan golden monkey as its mascot, the Pride campaign helped locals adopt new behaviors that mitigated hunting and habitat destruction.

Protecting the Siberian Tiger

In 2008, Rare developed a Pride campaign in China’s Jiling Province to protect endangered Siberian tigers from illegal game snares. With the help of local leader Lang Jianmin as Pride Campaign manager, Rare shifted social norms away from illegal snaring and held events to inspire community members to take pride in protecting the Siberian tiger.

Savings China’s Wetlands

In 2010, Rare launched a three-year program with seven local conservation partners to help preserve and protect China’s wetlands. Through Pride campaigns and the creation of a co-management fishing committee, Rare helped more than 50,000 fishers and 200,000 community members adopt sustainable behaviors.

Switching to Electric Stoves

In 2012, Rare Fellow Duan Honglian created a Pride campaign in Gaoligong, China to help the mountainside community switch to energy-efficient stoves and electric cookers to reduce wood harvesting for fuel. The campaign paved the way for an improved electric grid that cut the cost of energy in half.

Protecting the Finless Porpoise

In 2012, Rare and Rare Conservation Fellow Wei Baoyu launched a Pride campaign in Lujiao Township in Yueyang municipality to raise local pride and awareness about the uniqueness of the finless porpoise and help end destructive fishing practices like electric fishing and the use of illegal nets. The campaign resulted in the creation of the Finless Porpoise Protection Association and gained national attention for finless porpoise conservation.