Applying a co-design approach with key stakeholders to design interventions to reduce illegal wildlife consumption.
Co-design, an approach that seeks to incorporate the experiences and perspectives of different stakeholders, is increasingly being used to develop audience-oriented behaviour change interventions. The complexity of wildlife consumption behaviour makes the co-design approach an important potential tool for the design of conservation interventions that aim to reduce illegal wildlife trade. Yet, little is known about how to adapt and apply the co-design approach to the wildlife trade sector. Here, we applied a co-design approach to develop interventions aimed at reducing illegal animal-based medicine consumption in China. We conducted three workshops with key stakeholders: consumers of animal-based medicines, pharmacy workers who sell them and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctors who prescribe them. We then developed a theory of change to ensure the relevance of the co-designed intervention prototypes. Our co-design process identified five main pathways of interventions, including two inclusive solutions that may have been previously overlooked in behaviour change work in this context. These were an intervention to promote the appropriate use of TCM and one to increase consumers' capacity to identify the legality of products. Our prototype interventions also enhanced existing views related to the role of medical practitioners in health-risk communication. We used our co-design process and reflections on its application to this specific market to provide guidelines for future conservation program planning in the broader wildlife trade context. Some intervention prototypes produced during co-design may need wider stakeholder involvement to increase their feasibility for implementation. We show that the co-design process can integrate multiple stakeholders' perspectives in the ideation stage, and has the potential to produce inclusive intervention designs that could drive innovation in conservation efforts to reduce illegal consumption of a range of wild species.