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What is sustainable agriculture? Empirical evidence of diverging views in Switzerland and New Zealand


  • Aerni, Philipp


Public debates on sustainable agriculture tend to be shaped by dominant political stakeholders with a particular political agenda. They simultaneously contribute and respond to the formation of public opinion. In this paper, we investigate to what extent stakeholder attitudes and interests help explain national conceptions of sustainable agriculture and how these conceptions diverge between countries with different agricultural policies. For that purpose, we conducted two stakeholder perception surveys in Switzerland and New Zealand. The data analysis revealed that there are significant differences in perception between the two countries. While Swiss respondents felt that Swiss agriculture is already quite sustainable and that international trade and new technologies are likely to render it less sustainable, New Zealand respondents generally thought that economic and technological change is necessary to make agriculture more sustainable. The conservative Swiss attitude is in accordance with the country's defensive agricultural policy while the more progressive New Zealand attitude is clearly linked to its need to reconcile agricultural sustainability with national competitiveness.

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  • Aerni, Philipp, 2009. "What is sustainable agriculture? Empirical evidence of diverging views in Switzerland and New Zealand," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1872-1882, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:6:p:1872-1882

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bryan Caplan, 2007. "Introduction to The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies," Introductory Chapters,in: The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies Princeton University Press.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isabel Gallego-Álvarez & Mª Galindo-Villardón & Miguel Rodríguez-Rosa, 2015. "Analysis of the Sustainable Society Index Worldwide: A Study from the Biplot Perspective," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 120(1), pages 29-65, January.
    2. Aerni, Philipp, 2013. "Do Private Standards encourage or hinder trade and innovation?," Papers 599, World Trade Institute.
    3. Robert Huber & Christian Häberli, 2010. "A ‘beyond WTO’ scenario for Swiss agriculture: Consequences for income generation and the provision of public goods," Journal of Socio-Economics in Agriculture (Until 2015: Yearbook of Socioeconomics in Agriculture), Swiss Society for Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, vol. 3(1), pages 361-400.
    4. Philipp Aerni, 2011. "Do Political Attitudes Affect Consumer Choice? Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Study with Genetically Modified Bread in Switzerland," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(9), pages 1-18, September.
    5. Bardsley, Douglas K. & Bardsley, Annette M., 2014. "Organising for socio-ecological resilience: The roles of the mountain farmer cooperative Genossenschaft Gran Alpin in Graubünden, Switzerland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 11-21.
    6. Vecchione, Gaetano, 2010. "EU rural policy: proposal and application of an agricultural sustainability index," MPRA Paper 27032, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Aerni, Philipp, 2013. "Green entrepreneurship: the missing link towards a greener economy: Positive externalities of green entrepreneurship and innovation," Papers 619, World Trade Institute.
    8. Gnansounou, Edgard, 2011. "Assessing the sustainability of biofuels: A logic-based model," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 2089-2096.
    9. David E. Ervin & Leland L. Glenna & Raymond A. Jussaume, 2011. "The Theory and Practice of Genetically Engineered Crops and Agricultural Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(6), pages 1-28, June.


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