Intensive exchange of information using Syntegration®

Teilnehmende an der NFP 68-Syntegration vom 1. bis 3. November 2017 in Brunnen.

40 participants identified five key recommendations and six active levers for a sustainable use of soil as a resource. And NRP 68 gained a sound basis for defining the structure of the overall synthesis.

Participants at the NRP 68 Syntegration from 1 to 3 November 2017 in Brunnen. © Marco Finsterwald

​At the beginning of November, NRP 68 invited 40 experts to the Malik Syntegration® in Brunnen, Canton Schwyz. Over three days, 40 researchers and representatives from cantonal administrations, associations and organisations discussed the following question in a highly structured manner: “How do we control, shape and develop the sustainable use of soil as a resource in Switzerland?”. The aim was to reflect once again, in the context of practical experience, on the findings of NRP 68 and, using this as a starting point, to define the basic structure of the overall synthesis.

The introduction took the form of a 'relevance filter', whereby twelve topics of discussion were collectively identified. The topics – ranging from an awareness raising for soil issues, to the integration of soil quality into spatial planning, to the land market and real estate and finally to sustainable agriculture – were then addressed in discussion groups. In three rounds, the participants defined the topics more precisely, determined possible approaches for solutions and drew up recommendations for stakeholders. 33 in number, the recommendations were subsequently evaluated by the participants with regard to their relevance and urgency. The five key recommendations are: develop a communications strategy, promote innovation for soil-friendly agriculture, specifically establish more competences at a federal level, set up and operate a centre of excellence, and make soil-related information and knowledge available , cf. Executive Summary (in German only).

In parallel with this, Malik developed a sensitivity model® with which the issue of “Sustainable Use of Soil” was described as an overall system using 21 key factors. The most important basis for this was the accompanying analysis of the discussion groups by Malik staff. For example, this system was identified as a highly networked and inert system, changes to which require simultaneous and coordinated interventions at various points. A firm commitment by policy-makers, awareness raising, interdisciplinary understanding, system-changing innovation, but also effective incentives and stakeholder coordination emerged as key levers, cf. see Executive Summary(in German only).

The three days were extremely challenging and called for both physical and mental stamina from everyone involved. The communication structure ensured that the contents of the various discussions were networked between groups and subsequently incorporated into the overall result. This was apparent particularly from the increasing degree of knowledge from one discussion round to the next, and also from the participants’ own estimation of success. They rated the information and knowledge exchange very positively, even though the extent to which their expectations were met varied.

The outcome for NRP 68 was a sound basis for the synthesis structure. At the same time, various fields of action were identified for further coordination between practice partners, for which NRP 68 will act as initiator.