Simon Briner

Personal Scientific Assistant of the Director General, Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)

I have studied at ETH Zürich, where I wrote my thesis on agricultural economics. In my research, I modelled farms and farming structures in three mountainous regions of Switzerland. The model evaluated the impact of changes in climate and agricultural policy on the provision of different agro-ecosystem services in these regions. To set up the models applied in my thesis, I had to collect sound knowledge of agricultural production systems and how they relate to and are steered by agricultural policy. What I did during my PhD has some links with what I did as a job afterwards. In the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), I worked as a personal advisor to the director general. In this position, I was responsible for preparing information in the form of notes or presentations as well as for projects that mostly have a link to the future development of agricultural policy. For these tasks, the knowledge I had gained during the PhD – links between economic decision making, working of natural systems und policy – was very helpful because it makes it easier to understand what the impact of policy decision could be. This is where I see the most important interface between knowledge and policy: the provision of information that builds the base for sound decisions. If such information is provided in a way that is understandable for non-experts, it – in my opinion – can have a positive impact for policy development and give a positive reputation for science. Currently, I am running my own farm in Winterthur.