Lead: Judit Lienert, EAWAG

Aim and scope

We aim to identify a portfolio of feasible and cross-sectoral options for policy and practice that are able to overcome major conflict lines between different stakeholders in the Swiss governance of plant protection products (PPPs). These options can be policy instruments such as substance registration, monitoring programs, or subsidies for organic farming, or different food production methods and management practices at farm level. Concretely, we aim to identify possible ways to move forward in the use and regulation of PPPs located between objectives related to human health, environmental protection, agricultural production, and social policy. For this purpose, we will advance the design of participatory Multi-criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) in group decision-making.


We will build on previous information collected in the TRAPEGO project, e.g., the scientific evidence, the stakeholders’ objectives, their preferences regarding trade-offs between objectives, their risk attitude, and their support for different governance options. We assume that conflict lines will arise between different stakeholders such as political parties, authorities located at diverse decisional levels or sectors, food producers, consumer associations, or environmental organizations. To co-design a set of best-performing and feasible policy and practice options we will:

  • Select representatives of different stakeholders (see WP 4.2);
  • Use methods of participatory MCDA in several focus group workshops to elicit what the representatives deem as essentially important in decisions about the use and regulation of PPPs;
  • Underpin our analysis with existing scientific evidence and expert knowledge estimating the performance of each option on each objective with consideration of uncertainty;
  • Integrate the predictions about the options’ performance into mathematical models together with the preferences of the stakeholders;
  • Model the ranking of all decision options from best to worst, and their multi-attribute value or utility, indicating how well each option performed overall for each stakeholder;
  • Conduct sensitivity analyses to explore the robustness of results to changed assumptions;
  • Carry out final workshops to identify possible consensus options that are acceptable to all involved parties;
  • Carry out method comparisons in the parallel focus group workshops to understand biases that commonly occur in decision-making processes.

Expected results

The MCDA results in a set of feasible governance and management options. For each option, we will produce short, targeted fact sheets. We expect that the identified consensus options will receive the approval of key stakeholders thanks to the participatory process. Therefore, we also expect the results to be highly valuable for future decision-making processes concerning the governance of PPPs. Methodologically, our research will advance the design of participatory MCDA workshops in a highly sensitive and conflictual environment.