Nostalgia versus Pragmatism? How attitudes and interests shape the term sustainable agriculture in Switzerland and New Zealand
National public debates on sustainable agriculture are often framed by the respective attitudes and interests of the dominant stakeholders involved. The objective of this study is to analyse the public debates on sustainable agriculture in Switzerland and New Zealand by means of two stakeholder surveys. The analysis of the questionnaire data revealed that Swiss stakeholders favor a value-based approach to sustainable agriculture whereas their counterparts in New Zealand tend to endorse an innovation-based approach. Moreover, the policy network analysis showed that the public debate in New Zealand is dominated by stakeholders involved in R&D activities whereas advocacy groups, retailers and regulatory agencies tend to be the central players in the Swiss debate. These findings help to explain the more defensive approach to sustainable agriculture in Switzerland and highlight the importance of stakeholder interests in the shaping of the domestic agenda in agricultural policy. While the Swiss approach tends to be more in accordance with the conventional legal principles of sustainable development, the New Zealand approach may turn out to be more effective in addressing the future challenges of sustainable agriculture.
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