To simultaneously achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda in areas such as Biodiversity Conservation, Food Production and Consumption, a fundamental transformation in land use and agricultural production seems indispensable. Different interests, needs, and priorities render this task a real challenge. So the general question arises: how can we achieve successful sustainable transformation in areas of societal, economic, and environmental trade-offs?
To answer this question, we focus on pesticide use in agriculture in Switzerland; a cross-cutting theme where interests related to agricultural production are challenged by human and environmental health concerns. By now, a large body of scientific literature exists about pesticide exposure and effects for humans and the environment. There also exist national and international policies and practices in how to reduce risks related to pesticide use, but still the negative externalities cannot be fully internalized yet. In this research, we follow the basic assumption that systematic, targeted, and timely evidence and information about pesticide exposure and risks, about alternative farm practices and policies has an impact on peoples’ attitudes towards pesticide use and regulation.
The overarching goal of this project is to assess the potential for sustainable transformation in Swiss agriculture in order to internalize negative externalities that stem from pesticide use. This is achieved through the continuous and structured exchange between the different research teams of this grant and via three major objectives achieved by applying different research approaches:
1. Targeted evidence: evidence pathways and what type of evidence triggers selected stakeholders’ attitudes;
2. Reduction of sectoral trade-offs: a sound set of within- and across-sectoral and feasible policy and management options in pesticide regulation and practices, identified in focus groups, through modelling and multi-criteria decision-analysis;
3. Assessment of innovation potential: the potential for risk-minimized pesticide use strategies in future Swiss agriculture and under different scenarios.
Swiss TPH is responsible for exposure and health assessment in farming and non-farming families and for assessing the impact of personalized exposure feedback on attitudes and willingness to change.