Comprehensive Sustainability Assessment

Viewing sustainability holistically, i.e. on the basis of the three pillars of ecology, cost-effectiveness and social aspects, is of key importance for food production. In a project, we develop and validate quantitative impact indicators which allow us to describe and analyse the sustainability of farms.

Sustainable agricultural production is the prerequisite for future-oriented food production and provision of the population. Numerous research projects indicate that it is not enough to restrict ourselves to the ecological components of sustainability. Instead, a holistic view of sustainability based on the three pillars of ecology, cost-effectiveness and social aspects is becoming increasingly important.

M-Industrie and the Migros Cooperative Association have developed appropriate sustainability strategies. These strategies rely on a methodology whose aim is to enable the technically correct evaluation of the situation in question, as well as the documentation of development over time.

We develop the scientific basis for a methodology for assessing the sustainability of overall production at farm level, with a focus on Switzerland. The assessment is performed on the basis of a suitable set of quantitative impact indicators which we are developing with the support of various experts from Agroscope and outside. The indicator set takes account of the following components of sustainability: resource efficiency; climate; nutrient management; ecotoxicity; biodiversity and soil quality; animal welfare; social aspects (including landscape quality); and economics. For practical implementation, feasibility must be ensured. The project therefore follows the dictums of an optimal combination of scientific accuracy and practicality, which also above all encompasses as cost-effective and efficient a data collection process as possible.


Jacques Chavaz, jch-consult