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Maintaining Plant Biodiversity in Cities

Using Urban Design for a Better Green Infrastructure in Zurich

By Kevin Vega

What evidence was useful for policymaking?

Understanding the effects of urban design on plant species composition in cities is essential to maintaining biodiversity overall, promoting urban resilience in the face of climate change, and improving life quality for residents. Functional ecosystems can benefit pollinators, reduce urban flooding, and improve air quality –all while looking aesthetically pleasing.

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Pflanzenzüchtung – von klassischer Kreuzung bis Genom-Editierung

Mitglieder des PSC haben ein Faktenblatt zusammen mit dem Forum Genforschung Schweiz publiziert, welches die Methoden einer interessierten Öffentlichkeit verständlich machen will:

Ein neues Faktenblatt der Akademien der Wissenschaften Schweiz gewährt Ihnen einen Überblick über vier verschiedene Verfahren in der Pflanzenzüchtung und legt dabei einen Schwerpunkt auf die Anwendung der Genom-Editierung. Das Faktenblatt wurde von einer Gruppe von Experten und Expertinnen unter der Leitung des Forums Genforschung verfasst und geprüft.

Das Faktenblatt ist in Deutsch und Französisch unter folgendem Link erhältlich: http://geneticresearch.scnat.ch/fs-plantbreeding 

U Grossniklaus, M Messmer, R Peter, J Romeis und B Studer (2020) Pflanzenzüchtung – von klassischer Kreuzung bis Genom-Editierung. Swiss Academies Factsheet 15 (3): 10.5281/zenodo.3696456

PSC Proceedings: Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)

Following up the summer school 2018 the PSC published proceedings:

Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center: Proceedings of the PlantHUB Summer School 2018, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Plant Sciences.

Melanie Paschke (ed.). With contributions by: Manuela Dahinden, Gregory Grin, Melanie Paschke, Christine Rösch, Daan Schuurbiers, Foteini Zampati, Camilo Chiang, Franco Conci, Claudio Cropano, Florian Cueni, Seydina Issa Diop, Daniel Grogg, Manuel Nolte, Ina Schlathölter, Giacomo Potente and Maximilian Vogt.

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Social transformation through innovation and research is a key element in the discussion as to how the global community can overcome its complex problems related to environmental and economic constraints in a resource-limited world. Innovation conflicts arise when transformation is mainly technology-driven and does not take up ethical, legal and social issues. In response, scientists are today being asked to play a role in the science-in society dialogue.

The laboratory is in many ways still a protected space, in which (especially young) researchers are effectively shielded from outside pressures by their lab directors (Rip, 2003). The challenge for educational programs that aim to raise the level of attention to RRI issues is, therefore, to demonstrate the added value of social and ethical reflection for the researcher’s own work.

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Theory of Cange for three Alternative Food Networks in Zurich and Basel

Written by Dubravka Vrdoljak (ETH Zurich, Maria Tereza de Alencar (University of Graz), Anja Tesic (University of Basel)

Many alternative food networks (AFNs) developed over the past few years in Zurich and Basel. AFNs are an umbrella term that encompasses different foci in sustainable food systems, such as community-supported and urban agriculture, short food supply chains up to direct farm retail or food cooperatives with the objectives of shortening the food chain from farmers to consumers, bringing it closer to urban or peri-urban areas; the promotion of community engagement and participation; and the reduction of food waste (Moschitz et al., 2018).

We analyzed three AFNs operating in Zurich and/or Basel, namely Too Good To Go, Urban Agriculture Basel and Bachsemärt for their goals, visions, interventions and formats and organized it in the process-oriented Theory of Change (ToC).

In summary we have built ToC analysis based on the informations on the webpages of each AFN, crucial contributors to diverse agri-food chains. With the help of the ToC, we could provide compelling evidence that alternative food system initiatives work with a long-term goal model, even though they don’t clearly communicate it to the public. This approach has the potential to help emerging AFN’s to learn from existing ones and to establish a bigger network and best practices.

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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.

New Publication in GAIA 28/3/2019: Science-policy boundary work by early-stage researchers – Recommendations for teaching, internships and knowledge transfer

In our newest publication in GAIA (GAIA 28/3/2019) based on a Delphi study we summarized opportunities and challenges of our educational model: Real-world experience through secondments and co-creation of knowledge with policy organizations facilitates boundary crossing of research results to policymaking in their later work.

Most important for the success of policy work are institutional incentives and resources to engage as academic supervisor and early-stage scientist in the process:

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Fixing carbon in subtropical forest to mitigate climate change

How to transfer the knowledge to farmers

By Yuanyuan Huang

What evidence was useful for policymaking?

Huang et al (2018) in close cooperation between University of Zurich and the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, searched the links between to forests diversity and forest ecosystem services in a large biodiversity experiment in a subtropical forest in China.

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Maintaining biodiversity and managing oil palm expansion

What can policy papers and scenarios achieve?

By John Garcia-Ulloa

Oil palm extension remains an important environmental topic given the large negative impacts it can have on tropical biodiversity.
John Garcia-Ulloa had developed models and scenarios to understand biodiversity change in oil-palm landscapes under REDD+ initiatives during his science-policy fellowship from PSC and Mercator Foundation Switzerland.
In 2014 a close collaboration between ETH Zurich and IUCN was established to convene stakeholders from the oil palm sector and develop a strategy for IUCN to address the impacts of oil palm expansion on biodiversity. The main activity within the fellow’s internship at the policy Partner was to convene a group of experts to develop guidelines for the protection of biodiversity on oil-palm landscapes for IUCN.

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