PSC-Mercator: Agrarpolitik Blog contribution – “Ist Diversität im Grasland ökonomisch wertvoll?”

PSC-Mercator fellow Sergei Schaub and his supervisor Prof. Robert Finger wrote about the question “Ist Diversität im Grasland ökonomisch wertvoll?” in the Agrarpolitik Blog. A topic which Sergei addresses in is PhD project DIVERSEGRASS, which is funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland. Read more …

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PSC-Mercator Alumni co-authored IUCN Report on Oil palm and biodiversity

John Garcia-Ulloa, a PSC Science and Policy alumni, worked on a “Comprehensive Trade-off Analysis of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) Implementation”. Based on this work and a secondment within the framework of his fellowship, he co-authored the recently published IUCN report on “Oil palm and biodiversity: A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force”.

The situation analysis primarily focuses on oil palm in the context of biodiversity  conservation based on literature published before 31 January 2018, and aims to provide a constructive pathway to addressing sustainability challenges in the palm oil industry. This report does not assess the social and economic implications of palm oil production and expansion but will refer to these when they are likely to have an impact on biodiversity conservation. Through identification of key knowledge gaps, the situation analysis will also provide direction to the Oil Palm Task Force in terms of seeking to address these knowledge gaps in the remainder of the 2017-2020 Quadrennium. Read more …

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Summer School Registration closed: PSC summer school “Responsible Research and Innovation in Plant Sciences”, taking place from 10-14 September2018 in Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

From September 10 – 15, 2018 we will present the PSC summer school „Responsible Research and Innovation in Plant Sciences” at Einsiedeln, Switzerland.

Our summer school series (since 2010) on some of the most tackling topics of current science-society interface has been evaluated positively for years now as mind-opening experience.


Registration: Please send an e-mail to Romy Kohlmann (


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Visions as a powerful tool for sustainability

Visions can become surfaces for people to project their needs and wishes, to stimulate creativity and dialogue about desired futures on that people can consent for example based on agreed sustainability principles.

Visions are not the same as foresight that build on present-day knowledge and constraints and model future trends under different uncertainties. Visions are scenarios that could be a step in moving behind land use dilemmas, an example of this in Perez-Soba et al. 2018.

Imaging a distant future is a big mental step from our current experience. A key notion is therefore in Perez-Soba et al. (2018) that such a visioning exercise with stakeholders and the public needs to anchor imagination in a combination of normative and explorative scenarios to enrich these with their own experiences and imagination.

Researchers mentioned the role of mutual trust and flexibility to move behind stakeholders role and occupation (Schneider and Rist, 2014). Perez-Soba et al. (2018) used The Chatham House Rule (https://www. as a way to encourage openness and the sharing of information.

Visioning could be a way to make research and decision-making more responsive, however, it can come with caveats as the implementation need more time than the social licence of the consent exercise has granted.

References: Pérez-Soba, M., Paterson, J., Metzger, M.J. et al. Reg Environ Change (2018) 18: 775.

Schneider, F. & Rist, S. Sustain Sci (2014) 9: 463.

The Science and Policy Blog will comment on current approaches for participatory dialogue and deliberation in a loosely series over the next months. This contribution was done by Melanie Paschke, director education PSC after the Latsis Symposium, 6-7, and 9. June 2018: Scaling-up Forest-Restoration. The next contribution will be on different methods used in visioning.

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Agriculture and Climate Change: Reducing Food’s Footprint

A case study report can be downloaded:Agriculture and Climate Change: Reducing Food’s Footprint. Written by Carlos Eduardo Flores Tinoco, Tabea Gallusser, Christie Walker, PhD Program in Plant Sciences, ETH Zurich.

Agriculture and climate change go hand-in-hand, and changes in one will induce changes in the other. It is of utmost importance to identify agriculture procedures that minimize their contribution to climate change. Nowadays many agricultural procedures have been implemented that are able to increase their sustainability. Here we review the major influences between agriculture and climate change as well as explore which possibilities we currently have in order to mitigate the contribution from agriculture to climate change.

For download: PDF

The seminar “Sustainable Plant Systems” (VVZ: 551-0209-00L) is organized by the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center for MSc and PhD students of ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel every autumn term.

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New book: Agriculture in Transformation

PSC has summarized the diverse field of sustainable transformation of agriculture with contribution of Philipp Aerni, Gurbir Bhullar, Allan Buckwell, Markus Frank, Marcel van der Heijden, Hans Herren, John Ingram, François Meienberg, Michael Meissle, Melanie Paschke, Martin Schmid, Franziska Stössel, Raphael Wittmer, Gunda Züllich et al.

Agriculture in Transformation. Concepts for agriculture production systems that are socially fair environmentally safe. Proceedings of the PSC Summer Schools 2014 and 2016. For download:

Future demand in agricultural output is supposed to match the needs of 9 billion people with less input of resources. Can we transform our agricultural practices and move behind existing paradigms to develop innovative and sustainable agriculture production systems? A transformation of the regime is needed: a change in the socio-economic system through new narratives and diversification. Not driven by monopolizing technologies but supported by innovation, knowledge and careful evaluation of sustainable technologies and farming practices. What could be possible trajectories towards a sustainable agriculture and food system?

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Synthetic biology for natural products

A summary of the public panel discussion about Synthetic biology for natural products considering perspectives from academia, policy, public and industry. The panel discussion took place at the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC)  Symposium Plants for Health – from research to application on December 1st, 2016. Read more …

Written by Devang Mehta (ETH Zurich, Plant Biotechnology, Marie Curie IDP BRIDGES fellow)

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ISCB Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology

Biofertilization and Bioirrigation for sustainable mixed cropping of pigeon pea and finger millet (BIOFI) is a project that combines biotechnology and socio-economic research. The Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology (ISCB) released a film showing pictures and insights to the BIOFI meeting in Chennai, India. Members of the PSC as well as network partners are involved. Find the film here …


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Lemons or Lemonade? Public engagement with science: relevance and methods

In this one-day symposium, relevance, approaches and examples of successful public engagement with science will be presented. In workshops, we will discuss what can be gained for science in general and for research projects of participants. In two subsequent discussion rounds (Zukunftsforen), will get the opportunity for hands on training in public events. More details …

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Bridging Science and Policy – IDP BRIDGES Public Final Event

The Zurich-Basel Plant Center is pleased to invite you to the public final event of the Marie Curie Fellowship program IDP BRIDGES – Bridging Science and Policy.

At this event, we will be featuring a key note talk given by Dr. Marco Lambertini, Director General at WWF International. He will present highlights of the Living Planet Report 2016. He will show how scientific evidence has been integrated in this report and how researchers can actively contribute to WWF. For example, to strategy papers. Moreover, he will define the role of WWF International as an NGO at the interface of policy, science and the civic sector.

Subsequently, the IDP BRIDGES PhD fellows will present and discuss their PhD projects, which they are going to finalize soon. More details …








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