President of the Society for Risk Analysis
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and University of Stuttgart, Germany
University of Cardiff, UK
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Title: Ethical risk analysis
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland
This talk will highlight theory and applications of resilience and risk analysis to emergent and future conditions including technology innovations, environment, regulations, markets, behaviors, demographics, missions, and others. A canonical form of risk programs in industry, government, non-government institutions, and the military will be introduced. Scenario-based preferences will be shown to influence agency priorities across multiple performance criteria and initiatives. Examples from the presenter’s recent efforts include: Simulation and optimization of container-port operations, advanced chargers that reduce ownership costs of electric vehicles in fleet operations, capacity expansion of the power grid of Afghanistan, corridor risk management for transportation and other infrastructure, airport runway incursions and associated safety-training benefits, and asset management across large-scale infrastructure systems for hydropower, navigation, and flood control. Other key challenges for careers and the field of risk analysis will be identified. The talk will describe aims and accomplishments of the Society for Risk Analysis and its members across its dozen regional organizations, several chapters, fifteen specialty groups, journals, and governance bodies. The advantages and benefits of career-long membership in the Society will be presented. Worldwide opportunities to organize and participate in upcoming SRA-sponsored events, activities, social media, professional networks, awards, leadership, etc. will be announced.
The history of the last four decades has been a success story in terms of conventional risk management. All data show that life expectancy is increasing, accidents become less frequent and habitual risks less severe. The picture becomes, however, less favorable if we look at globally interconnected, non-linear risks such as those posed, for example, by climate change or the global financial system and the closely related growing inequality between rich and poor. Systemic risks can be characterized by four major properties: they are (1) global in nature, (2) highly interconnected and intertwined leading to complex causal structures, (3) non-linear in the cause-effect relationships and (4) stochastic in their effect structure. The main features of systemic risks include ripple effects beyond the domain in which the risks originally appear and the threat of a multiple breakdown of important or critical services to society. The main problem is that it is often difficult to predict when a system will suffer a breakdown or collapse. Threats to the system, such as climate change, may be hidden in small incremental effects that provide no hint about when thresholds have been reached. Or a collapse may occur due to a domino effect where a small glitch is released that affects multiple elements within a system or even multiple systems in parallel, thereby amplifying the overall risk.
Insidious systemic risks tend to be underestimated and do not attract the same amount of attention as catastrophic events that occur suddenly. There are three main sources of global hazards that we need to focus on: the growing extent of human intervention in nature (climate change, pollutant emissions, use of land and water); inadequate or ineffective control of central processes in the realms of business and politics (capital markets, corruption, capacity deficits); and adverse by-products of globalization and modernization (unequal living conditions, lack of security, cyber-risks, loss of identity). Although most people are usually familiar with them, they do not get the same attention as the conventional hazards and risk have been given in the past. This can have disastrous consequences – and not only in financial markets.
Responding adequately to global systemic risks is a challenge for our world society where national interests and different cultures conflict with efficient responses. Governance of systemic risks require strategies that address the complexity, scientific uncertainty and socio-political ambiguity of its underlying relationships. However, national as well as international attempts to address systemic risks have decoupled risk anticipation from sustainable and resilient risk management processes and structures. Furthermore, the modernization process facilitates the emergence of plural knowledge and value claims that leads to the request of multiple stakeholders to be part of the risk management process. Public participation has proven to be an important part and often key driver for successful and legitimate risk governance for advancing effective policies to curb systemic risks. In the end risk management and communication needs to address the four characteristics of systemic risks and develop the appropriate instruments to deal with global, interconnected, stochastic and non-linear risks.
This paper describes the background rationale, core methodology and sampling, and initial headline findings of the EPCC Project - European Perceptions of Climate Change. This is a major risk perceptions survey undertaken by 4 collaborating national teams in 2016 and supported by the Joint Programme Initiative on Climate Change (JPI-Climate). A total sample size of 1000 nationally representative respondents was collected in each of Great Britain, Germany, Norway and France using a multi-item survey instrument. The aim of the survey is to understand how cross-nation differences in - e.g. climate scepticism, the psychological distance of climate change risk, and political orientation, together with key aspects of national cultural and energy systems contexts - might help us understand both climate risk perceptions and policy responses.
In this talk I compare a translation of an international regulation into two local contexts, setting this process in a broader context of the all-pervading risk management. The two countries are Sweden and Poland,and the regulation is Basel II Accord. In both countries, the translation was shaped by the past history, and the present circumstances. The results show that, in spite of local differences, there is a common belief in quantification of risks as the main remedy and therefore the main way of managing them. Abstract and vague formulations, combined with sophisticated calculation techniques, win over the complications of actual practices.
Many of the issues that tend to be insufficiently covered in traditional risk analysis belong to the realm of ethics. This includes topics such as who contributes to the risk and with what intentions, what role those exposed to the risk have in the decision to take the risk, and how the risk and its associated benefits are distributed. This presentation introduces Ethical Risk Analysis as a practice aimed at complementing standard risk analysis with a systematic account of ethical issues that are import for risk management. The main tool proposed for the analysis is a risk-role analysis focusing on the three major roles of being risk-exposed, a decision maker, and a beneficiary (i.e. someone who benefits from the risk-taking). Important issues to be asked are whether these roles coincide and whether people who have one of these roles are dependent on those with another role. For instance, are the risk-exposed also decision-makers about the risk, and is it they or someone else who benefits from the risk being taken? Do the decision-makers benefit from the risk being taken, or do they depend in some way on those who do? Additional tools of thought for the ethical analysis of risk are also introduced, including hypothetical retrospection, mutually beneficial risk acceptance, and the notion of background decisions.
The General Food Law Regulation (Regulation EC 178/2002) was adopted within the European Union as a result of several food-related alerts. Although risk assessment had been in use all across the EU, the functional distinction between risk assessment and risk management and, especially, the establishment of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA started a new era in the history of food safety in Europe.
The food-based outbreaks we had seen over the past years highlighted the importance of the whole food chain. Risk management measures and preventive work should cover the link “from field to fork”. At the same time research and scientific risk assessment all through the food production chain were placed higher than ever before on the agenda of policy- and decision-making.
Since its adoption the General Food Law Regulation has given EFSA the mandate and obligation to provide impartial, high-level scientific opinions and advice to help policy makers in making their decisions. The European Food Safety Authority is not alone in this challenging work. EFSA is dependent on data produced by others, while at the same time sharing information and collaborating with European and international partners. This also fosters high-level scientific debate. The number of scientific outputs produced by EFSA each year is impressive indeed. In 2015 over 100 scientific outputs were published, covering the whole of EFSA’s broad mandate.
Over the years since its establishment EFSA has taken its place as “a science-based organization that protects and informs consumers”. There is a high degree of trust in and respect for EFSA, based on the authority’s competence in delivering high-quality scientific advice. Together with the appropriately targeted, cost effective risk management measures by the Member States and European Commission, scientific risk assessment has definitely worked for the benefit of the consumers.