SRA Europe 2007 Annual Meeting: Programme

The conference consisted of several scientific activities. These were:

Plenary sessions

The Monday plenary session focuses on the interaction between scientists of various disciplines. Are multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary researchers building bridges in risk analysis research? Moderator of this session will be Prof. dr. Arie Rip (University of Twente, the Netherlands). Arie Rip is em. Professor of Philosophy of Science and Technology in the School of Management and Governance of the University of Twente and is the leader of the new program on Technology Assessment and Societal Aspects of Nanotechnology (part of the Dutch national consortium NanoNed).

Keynote speakers on the Monday plenary session include:

  • Prof. dr. Nick Pidgeon (School of Psychology, Cardiff University) on "From bio to nano to nuclear: integration and public policy in social science risk research".
  • Prof. dr. Ortwin Renn (Professor at Stuttgart University, Institute of Social Sciences, and managing director of Dialogik).
  • Prof. dr. Josee van Eijndhoven (professor of Sustainability Management, Erasmus University of Rotterdam) on "Risk research in the real world".
  • Dr. Marc Sprenger (Director-General of the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM).

The Tuesday plenary session focuses on the interaction between scientists and other risk stakeholders like policymakers. How can we incorporate risk analysis research in risk policy and management? How can risk researchers address questions of policy makers? What risk management questions can policy makers ask? What about mutual expectations? Moderator of this session will be Prof. dr. Erwin Seydel (University of Twente). Erwin Seydel is Professor of Social-psychological aspects of organizational and health problems at the Faculty of Behavioral Sciences of the University of Twente (the Netherlands).

Keynote speakers on the Tuesday plenary session include:

  • Dick Schoof (Director-General Safety of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations)
  • Anita Wouters (Director Water of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management)
  • Dr. Maria Jepsen (Head of Research at the European Trade Union Institute for Research, Education, Health and Safety).
  • Jan Staman on "Keep Distance" (Jan Staman is director of the Dutch Rathenau Institute which carries out research into the development of science and technology).

Mini Symposia and Round Table Discussions

The following mini-symposia and Round Table discussions are part of the conference program. Just click on the links and you will find information on the aim and the participants of the activity, and it scheduling in the conference program. Of course, special symposia and round tables are open to all conference delegates.

The conference book will contain more detailed information about the individual presentation in the symposia.

Integrated Risk Management

Monday, June 18th, 11.00 – 12.30 hours:

Chair:

Olivier SALVI, Ineris

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Olivier Salvi, INERIS, France: Convergence towards integrated risk management: results of the Shape-Risk Project.
  • Jaehyun Kim, KOSHA, Korea Integrated Management of SHE&Q: Contribution to the preparation of an OECD guidance.
  • Ortwin Renn, Dialogik, Germany & IRGC, Switzerland: Integrative approach for risk governance.
  • Aleksandar Jovanovic, EU-VRi, Germany: Vision of the newly created European Virtual Institute for Integrated Risk Management : the basis for a new safety paradigm in Europe.

 

Aim:

It is foreseen that the Symposium will help in the definition of a common framework for early recognition, monitoring and integrated management of emerging, new technology related, risks in industrial systems.

The Symposium addresses the problems arising from the fact that production activities today relate to a value chain and are carried out in plants, industrial parks and networks which are becoming more and more complex, with steadily growing interrelations and interdepencies. In particular, the production activities increasingly involve new technologies and materials that introduce new (“emerging”) risks. This complexity, combined with increasing multifunctional use of space and increasing population densities, creates greater risks to society while at the same time social acceptance of these risks is decreasing. The shift to a new safety paradigm and a supporting implementation framework is therefore required and it might be provided by several initiatives that will be presented during the symposium. The development of new approaches is based on systemic approaches, as well as on cost-effectiveness in order to weigh the impact of risks (e.g. environmental impact, economic factors, workers well being) and then identify balanced solutions. The integration of risk aspects in an integrated risk management framework addresses technical, human (ergonomics), organizational, societal and cultural aspects. New tools are being developed as well, to support such integrated approaches: e.g. on-line risk assessment to allow continuous monitoring of interactions in industrial systems throughout their life cycle: design, material development, manufacturing/construction, operation, maintenance, dismantling/decommissioning.

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Index of mini-symposia and round table discussions

How to deal with emotional issues in EMF risk communication

Chair:

Dr. Andrea T. Thalmann, (T-Mobile Germany)

Monday, June 18th, 11.00 – 12.30 hours:

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Andrea T. Thalmann, T-Mobile Germany. "How to deal with emotional issues in EMF risk communication".
  • Peter M. Wiedemann, Research Center Jülich, Germany. "Emotions in hearings: How to respond adequately to complaints, accusations, and attacks": Experiences from Germany”
  • Ray Kemp, Ray Kemp Consulting Ltd. UK & Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bio-effects Research (ACRBR), Australia. “Behaving reasonably: recent experience in understanding and responding to emotional concerns about EMF in Australia.”
  • Fred Woudenberg, Municipal Health Services Amsterdam, The Netherlands, „Why risk communication does(n’t) work?”
  • Gregor Dürrenberger, Swiss Research Foundation on Mobile Communication c/o Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), "EMF Risk Communication: Addressing Facts and Emotions”.

 

Aim:

During the last decade, a considerable amount of social science research about how to communicate EMF risks has taken place. The main purposes were to rationalize the discussion by bringing the emotionalized debate back to the facts and thereby to promote informed risk decisions. However, the debate about possible health risks from EMF is still highly emotionalized, especially regarding the high frequency bands. People express fears, anger, or feelings of dissatisfaction about not being taken serious by key players in public discussions. If these emotions are not adequately addressed, even the most sophisticated risk communication remains pointless. It may even make the situation worse by being perceived as a means to silence critical debate. Consequently, a mishandled debate will amplify emotions, and risk perception.

The relevant sciences suggest that a necessary requirement for constructive EMF risk management is to adequately address the factor "emotions" in EMF risk communication. Recent research confirms the importance of emotions in risk perception. But it offers only limited theoretical and empirical insights about how to deal with emotions in risk communication.

The aim of this symposium is to reflect critically the current state of the art in research with regard to how to deal with emotions in EMF risk communication research, as well as to identify opportunities for future research. The main focus will be on the impact of emotions on risk perception, the role of the media, different types of adequate reaction in emotionalized public events, and practical recommendations for risk communication. These topics will be discussed from both, the theoretical and practical point of view.

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Disaster & Media in Europe: a quantitative approach

Monday, June 18th, 11.00 – 12.30 hours:

Chair:

Dominique Dolisy-Bonnetaud, Institut Européen des Risques, Managing Director

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Anne Lalo (Fr), Université de Nice, France : Media-coverage of the AZF-disaster: number of articles and mayor players in the field.
  • Anne Lalo, Université de Nice : Impact of disaster and disaster reporting on public opinion.
  • Maureen de Hond (NL), Universiteit Twente, the Netherlands: Framing in news on the Fireworks Disaster.
  • Margôt Kuttschreuter (NL), Universiteit Twente, the Netherlands: Fireworks disaster, portrayal of governmental authorities & risk communication policy.
  • Frank Havik (NL), former journalist, currently attached to government center for crisis and risk communication.

 

Aim:

In recent years a number of accidents have taken place in Europe which led to the loss of lives. This symposium addresses the question of the impact of two such incidents – the explosion in 2001 of the AZF-factory in Toulouse (France) and the explosion in 2000 in a fireworks warehouse in Enschede (Netherlands) – on news media, policy makers and public. Empirical research on this question is scarce. This symposium aims at filling in part of this gap by presenting empirical data on some aspects of this question.

The objective of the symposium is to bring together researchers working in this field and to determine in which manner this line of research can be expanded. This may result in the creation of a consortium of researchers and in attempts to attract European funding for more elaborate research. The Enschede- and Toulouse-case may function as pilot studies for such a more elaborate approach.

Building on the Social Amplification of Risk model, specifically focusing on the role of the news media, the symposium starts with the identification of a number of relevant aspects of the impact of a disaster on society. The relevance of these aspects will be illustrated by the presentation of empirical data on the media-reporting of the AZF-disaster in Toulouse (Fr) and the Fireworks disaster in Enschede (NL) and its impact on public opinion and risk communication policy. Topics to be addressed in the presentations are number of articles on the disaster over time (FR/NL), frames used in the articles (NL), portrayal of specific players in the field (FR/ NL), impact of the context of the disaster on news reporting (FR), impact of the disaster on public opinion (FR), impact of disaster and disaster reporting on governmental risk and risk communication policy (NL). These contributions will form the starting point for a discussion on the future agenda of this type of research, initiated by comments made by an expert in journalism and risk communication. The discussion will focus on the prioritizing of research questions, the manner in which such research can be carried out, the participants in such research and the possibility to attract funding.

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Nanotechnologies: Emerging Risks and Societal Responses

Monday, June 18th, 14.00 – 15.30 hours & 16.00 – 17.30 hours

Chair:

Nick Pidgeon, Cardiff University School of Psychology, Wales, UK & Barbara Harthorn, NSF Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California at Santa Barbara, USA

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Ortwin Renn (Dialogik, Gemany : Two Frames for Viewing Nanotechnology Risks
  • Barbare Harthorn and Karl Bryant (University of California at Santa Barbara, USA) : Nanoscale Scientists and Risk Attenuation: The Triumph of Hope over Experience?
  • Terre Satterfield and Milind Kandlikar (University of British Columbia) : Expert Judgments of Public Perceptions: How Well Do They Know their Audience?
  • Emma Hughes and Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff University) : Framing Nanotech: How the Press Cover Emerging Risks.
  • Sharon Friedman and Brenda Egolf (Lehigh University, USA) : Reporting the Risks of Nanotechnology in the Media from 2000-2005.
  • Tee Rogers-Hayden and Nick Pidgeon (Cardiff University, Wales, UK) : Opening up Nanotechnology Dialogue with the Publics: Risk Communication or ‘Upstream Engagement’?
  • Arie Rip and Marloes van Amerom (University of Twente, The Netherlands) : The Emerging Landscape of Nanotechnology Risk Governance

 

Aim:

 

There has been growing attention to the question of nanotechnology risks in the regulatory arena. Nanotechnology involves the fabrication, manipulation and control of materials at the atomic level. Scientists and engineers have become interested in nanotechnologies because at sizes below 100nm the fundamental chemical or electrical properties of materials can change. Such property changes have led many to predict a range of fundamental new advances in chemistry and physics over the next 10-50 years, in the domains of new materials, the environment, in medicine and in information technology. Alongside the hopes for such advances, recent reports from the UK Royal Society (2004) and the International Risk Governance Council (Renn and Roco, 2006), point out that nanotechnologies also raise a range of potential risks and many surrounded by considerable uncertainty. If common elements exhibit different chemical properties when fabricated at the nanoscale, they might also lead to unanticipated health or environmental hazards. In addition to the more direct human and environmental toxicology issues, some commentators have also suggested that nanotechnologies’ will in the longer-term raise extensive social, ethical and governance issues around a range of risk questions of the sorts already seen for example with nuclear energy or biotechnologies.

Research on the emerging societal responses to nanotechnology risks (public perceptions, media frames, governance structures) is in its formative stages. In this symposium we bring together leading specialists working on these questions from Europe, the USA and Canada to offer a multidisciplinary session addressing different facets of the risk issues and corresponding societal responses to nanotechnologies. Collectively they represent several disciplines: risk perception, communication and media studies, environmental studies, anthropology, and science and technology studies.

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Citizen engagement as a policy tool in the management of risk: options, difficulties and practicalities

Monday June 18th, 14.00 – 15.30 & 16.00 – 17.30 hours

Chair:

J. Barnett & T. Horlick-Jones

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Ana Prades Lopez & Christian Oltra (CIEMAT, Barcelona, Spain): The social perception of nuclear fusion: multiple modes of understanding, and implications for future communication and engagement initiatives.
  • Tom Horlick-Jones - Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales UK : Bricolage in action: learning about, making sense of, and discussing issues about genetically modified crops and food
  • Ann Enander (Swedish National Defence College) : Engaging with lay publics in planning emergency management.
  • Tom Horlick-Jones : Citizen engagement processes as information systems: the role of knowledge and the concept of translation quality
  • Gene Rowe (Institute of Food Research, Norwich UK) : Difficulties in evaluating public engagement initiatives
  • Julie Barnett (Psychology Dept, University of Surrey, GUILDFORD, SURREY) : Engagement with stakeholders and publics: evidence for policy?

 

Aim:

The notion of citizen engagement has become a central motif in public policy discourse within many democratic countries. It has come to be regarded as an important component of good governance, and is seen as addressing a number of perceived, potentially problematic sources of crisis faced by contemporary governments: deficits of knowledge, trust, and legitimacy. However, this ‘deliberative turn’ poses important questions about decision-making in risk-related areas like innovation and technology management; and in particular in cases where the decisions in question are associated with some degree of controversy. In such cases, how is expert knowledge to be reconciled with lay perspectives? In what circumstances can lay views become admissible evidence for policy-making? What constitutes an engagement process of high quality? Much has been written about such questions which address these issues in conceptual and theoretical terms. Valuable work has been done in developing the practicalities of citizen engagement. However, the extensive evaluation of the recent large-scale British government-sponsored exercise in engagement about genetically modified crops (the GM Nation? public debate in 2002-03) demonstrated the urgent need to develop a coherent body of practical design knowledge to support such initiatives. This symposium will address a number of these outstanding questions, focussing especially on the practicalities of engagement.

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Individualisation and Risk Perception and Communication

Monday, June 18th, 14.00 – 15.30 hours

Chair:

Jens Zinn, University of Kent

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Jens Zinn, University of Kent: Overview of Individualisation and Risk.
  • Jane Lewis, LSE, UK : Risk and New Forms of Family Life.
  • Andreas Cebulla, NatCen, UK : Risk in the Life-Course.
  • Peter Lunt, Brunel University, UK : Risk and Difference.
  • David Abbott University of Bristol : Innovations in the Regulation of Risk.

 

Aim:

An important theme in discussion of social change and people’s perceptions of risk in the modern world is individualisation: the assumption is that as a result of the greater flexibility and fluidity of working and family lives, the declining capacity of nation states to control their own economies and the diminishing authority of other institutions, such as trade unions, experts or professional bodies, people think about risks and expect to deal with them as individuals. Public policy supports this approach in the expansion of markets and encouragement of private services in a range of areas. This raises the question of how far research on risk needs to take social factors into account and how far it can operate at an individual level. These papers, all drawing on current large-scale research projects, analyse this issue across a number of important areas and demonstrate that social factors remain significant.

Risk and New Forms of Family Life: This research, using qualitative and quantitative methods, shows that people live more fluid and independent lives, but are not simply retreating to a selfish individualism in their personal relationships. Rather they work to maintain mutual and caring relationships. Different stages in the development of relationships may be understood as reflecting the process of building and testing inter-personal trust.

Risk in the Life-Course: This project uses a major national survey (N=1200) and 58 follow up qualitative interviews with members of selected families to analyse inter-generational factors shaping responses to risk. It shows that individuals express a high level of concern about the risks they face during the course of their lives, varying between social groups, with age, class, gender and values being important. However, in areas like entry into paid work, the processes that people follow do not appear to be more individualised than in previous generations, and family relationships remain important.

Risk and Difference: Much discussion of social change and public policy assumes that people consider and respond to risk very much as individuals. This research, drawing on 20 stake-holder interviews and over 80 qualitative interviews with members of the public shows that people recognise individualised responsibility but the divisions of social difference, like faith, sexuality, disability and ethnicity still exert considerable influence on responses to everyday life risks.

Innovations in the Regulation of Risk: Public policies in a number of areas treat people as individualised consumers and seek them to empower them so that consumer choice will achieve the objectives previously advanced by centralised regulation. This often leads to confusion and uncertainty about the limits of state responsibility. This project, drawing on 40 stake-holder interviews, analysis of the policies of new regulatory bodies in telecommunications and financial services in the UK and 15 focus groups with members of the general public, shows that the demands placed on regulators are often contradictory. On the one hand, they are expected to support the public as autonomous and well-informed consumers, capable of making choices in a free market, and, on the other, to provide strict day-to-day regulation of the material to which the public is exposed. The public indicate corresponding confusion in their expectations of government. Policies intended to produce more individualised consumerist regulation regimes have not been entirely successful.

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Promoting Food Safety through a New Integrated Risk Analysis Approach for Foods (SAFE FOODS)

Monday, June 18th, 16:00 – 17:30 hours

Chair:

Hans Marvin, RIKILT - Institute of Food Safety

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Hans Marvin, RIKILT - Institute of Food Safety : Developing tools for improved risk assessment in foods and early identification of emerging risks.
  • Lynn Frewer, Wageningen University : A Delphi approach for stakeholder assessment of the new risk analysis framework.
  • Ortwin Renn, DIALOGIK : Institutional re-arrangements in European food safety governance – A comparative analysis.
  • Harry Kuiper, RIKILT - Institute of Food Safety :A new Risk Analysis Framework for Foods.

 

Aim:

The governance of food safety has long been regarded as the domain of “experts” and professional risk managers, with minimal input from other interested parties, such as consumers. However, a number of food safety incidents in Europe (GMOs, BSE, dioxins,…) have severely damaged public trust in food safety regulation and management and exposed the need for improvements in the current approach to food risk analysis. The EU project SAFE FOODS (2004-2008) aims to contribute to the restoration of consumer trust in the food chain through the development of a new integrated risk analysis approach for foods. Combining the skills of over 100 natural and social scientists, coming from 37 institutions in 21 countries, SAFE FOODS is integrating a broad range of disciplines to refine risk analysis practice for food safety. The new approach integrates risk-benefit assessment of human health, consumer preferences and values, as well as impact analysis of socio-economical aspects. Compared to current frameworks, a lot of attention is given to active stakeholder participation, increased transparency in decision-making, improved interaction between risk assessors and risk managers and more effective communication throughout the risk analysis process. The interdisciplinary nature of the theme of food safety risk analysis is well reflected by the diversity in SAFE FOODS research activities that will be presented in this seminar.

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National Risk Assessment in the Netherlands (Special Symposium)

Tuesday, June 19th, 11:00 - 12:30 hours

Chair:

Leon Janssen, RIVM – MNP and Netherlands Programme for National Security

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Anja van Dam (Netherlands Programme for National Security) : "The Dutch policy program on national security."
  • Diederik Wijnmalen (TNO) : "National Risk Assessment, elaboration of the methodology."
  • Erik Pruyt (University of Technology Delft) : "An application of the methodology (Case study, Multi criteria analysis sensitivity analysis)."
  • Leon Janssen : "Discussion and research questions."

 

Aim:

Threats to our security are changing and are becoming increasingly more entwined. Relatively simple threats can lead to social upheaval due to increasing dependencies. Consequently it will be increasingly less likely that just one department or organisation will be able to formulate and implement the answer to existing and new threats. This requires an approach which guarantees integrality and coherence, which looks beyond the threats: specific (known) threats must no longer form the basis of planning and policy, but rather the degree in which national security is or can be threatened must be taken as the basis. To address this, a strategy for national security was written. National security is under threat when vital interests of the Netherlands state and/or society are threatened to such extent that there is – potential – social upheaval. The following vital interests have been defined: territorial security (in danger when the borders of our territory have been breached), economic security (undisrupted commerce), ecological security (living environment), physical security (public health) and social and political stability (e.g. respect for core values such as freedom of expression).

Part of the national strategy is the national risk assessment (NRA), an assessment of the threats in terms of risks in relation to the vital interests and positioning these risks vis-à-vis each other. The results serve to decide which risks will have priority in deciding what the government must be capable of and if, and if so, where and how to national security can be reinforced.

For the national risk assessment a multi criteria analysis method is used. During the symposium this method is explained and discussed. Special attention is paid to the choice of criteria, assessing the impact of potential hazards and threats and how criteria are weighted.

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Emergent Phenomena after a disaster (round table)

Tuesday, June 19th, 11.00 – 12.30 hours

Chair:

Ariëlle M. de Ruijter, Impact, Dutch knowledge and advice centre for post-disaster psychosocial care.

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Magda W. Rooze, Impact, Dutch knowledge and advice- centre for post-disaster psychosocial care and
  • Ariëlle. M. de Ruijter, Impact, Dutch knowledge and advice-centre for post-disaster psychosocial care: Citizens and Resilience, the balance between awareness and fear
  • Nancy Oberijé, Netherlands Institute for Safety, Nibra : Civil participation in response to disasters
  • Hans P. van de Sande, University of Groningen : Organizing the aftermath: a question of communication

 

Aim:

Traditionally, a lot of victim- and disaster research has focused on vulnerability and pathology. More recently, there is growing attention for resilience, self-efficacy and coping by citizens themselves as a more common outcome of adversity. These are important and promising concepts when dealing with risk- and crisis communication.

In disaster relief en civil protection there is a huge effort to be prepared on governmental, policy and operational level. All this is necessary, but all too often the possibility of involving the general public as a partner is overlooked.

The leading question for this round table is: What can governments and professionals do in risk- and crisis communication to enhance resilience and to facilitate civil participation?

In this Round Table the concepts of resilience and civil participation will be introduced in two short presentations and in the third we will make them work for experts in the field of risk perception and risk- and crisis communication. In our analysis we will make use of Weick’s theory of organizing.

After these presentations we will discuss the presentations with the audience for further addressing and synthesizing risk- and crisis communication with resilience and civil participation.

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Transatlantic Regulatory Reform and Risk Regulation (round table)

Tuesday, June 19th, 11.00 – 12.30 hours

Chair:

Alberto Alemanno, Bocconi University, Milan

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Lorenzo Allio, King's College: Recent developments of the European Commission Impact Assessment: A critical review
  • Alberto Alemanno: Bocconi University: The Impact Assessment Board: Towards an Effective Regulatory Oversight Body in Europe?
  • Jonathan Wiener, Duke University and University of Chicago: Better Regulation in Europe and America.
  • Kees van Luijk, M. van der Plas, Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. The truth behind the dikes: are differences in risk policy and divergent risk standards in the Netherlands reasonable?

 

Aim:

At a time where the EU is increasingly looking at the other side of the Atlantic to borrow ideas in order to shape its regulatory reform, known under the name of Better Regulation, the organisation of a Symposium on Transatlantic Regulatory Reform and Risk Regulation is particularly timely. The aim of the Symposium is to bring together researchers interested in exploring current trends in regulatory policies in the EU and in the US. Special attention will be devoted to Impact Assessment methodologies and risk regulation models as developed on both systems. The Symposium seeks to contribute to improve cross-fertilisation and to develop a common language between the two sides of the Atlantic, thereby serving as a unique platform for a strengthened transatlantic dialogue on these issues.

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Nanobiotechnology: Preparing for the likely public and policy issues (Round table)

Tuesday, June 19th: 11.00 – 12.30 hours

Chair:

David Bennett

The panel members are:

  • Julian Kinderlerer
  • David Rickerby
  • Vinod Subramaniam (Biophysical Engineering Group, University of Twente)
  • Donald Bruce (Edinethics).

Aim:

The proposed round table session is based on the European Commission-funded “Nanobio-RAISE” project aimed to anticipate the societal and ethical issues likely to arise as nanobiotechnologies develop and to use the lessons from the GM debate to respond to the public, media and political concerns. It brings together the key European and North American players: nanobiotechnologists, ethicists, social scientists, communication specialists, and companies using nanobiotechnology. The aim is to horizon-scan for the scientific and commercial developments likely to cause public and political concern, clarify the ethical issues involved or as they arise, and recommend and carry out strategies for public communication to address the emerging questions. Following a relatively short phase of research and development a number of new nanotechnology-based products have already been launched including cosmetics, sunscreen lotions, medical diagnostic devices, diesel additives and water-repellent and self-cleaning coatings. It is possible, but yet unproven, that materials involved, while not normally toxic to humans or the environment, may be so as nano-sized particles. Hence a quite different approach to detection of possible hazard, risk assessment and regulatory control is required. Concerns arise because of the potential nanotoxicity or pollution associated with certain nanomaterials and the likely widespread presence of nanoproducts in the near future across industry sectors, companies and countries throughout the world. Current awareness of nanotechnology by the public is very low. In the European Commission’s Eurobarometer 64.3 survey: "Europeans and Biotechnology in 2005: Patterns and Trends”, over 40% of the sample answered ‘don’t know’ when asked whether they thought that nanotechnologies would improve their way of life over the next 20 years or make it worse. While still unfamiliar to many, more are optimistic about nanotechnology in 2005 than in 2002. The 2006 National Science Foundation-funded survey in the USA of public perceptions of nanotechnology products found that US consumers are willing to use specific nano-containing products even if there are health and safety risks when the potential benefits are high. However the very low awareness of nanotechnology by the public worldwide, and the very high percentage of "don't knows" in the European survey compared with other technologies provides the opportunity for improving public understanding and initiating a balanced public dialogue from the outset. Public engagement on issues in nanotechnology is clearly necessary to prevent leaving a perception 'vacuum' to be occupied by activist NGOs as happened with GM food and agriculture. As the NSF study concluded “Transmitting the latest information about both risks and benefits, in a timely, thorough and transparent way, will minimise the likelihood of a polarised public debate that turns on rumour and supposition.” This round table would feature a panel of leading experts from the Nanobio-RAISE project in the sciences, risk assessment, ethics and public communication making short presentations from their various viewpoints about these issues leading into a highly interactive discussion session with the audience.

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Dealing with flood risks in the Netherlands: an integrative approach

Tuesday, June 19th, 14.00 – 15.30 hour

Chair:

Herman van der Most, WL | Delft Hydraulics, the Netherlands

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Herman van der Most: WL | Delft Hydraulics and Sten de Wit: TNO-Bouw en Ondergrond: The Meaning And Value Of Technical Information In Dealing With Flood Risk.
  • Anne van der Veen, University of Twente, Faculty of Management and Policy : Flood Risk Perceptions And Spatial Multi-Criteria Analysis: A New Approach
  • Teun Terpstra, University of Twente, Faculty of Behavioral sciences. : Public Perceptions Of Flood Risk In The Netherlands: The Factors Guiding People’s Behavioural Intentions To Prepare For Flood Disaster.
  • Bas Kolen, HKV Lijn in water : Evacuation And The Threat Of Flooding, Learning By Doing

 

Aim:

Until the high water events of the mid 1990’s in the Dutch river area, flood risk management in the Netherlands was primarily focussed on flood prevention by maintaining dike heights, i.e., on managing the probability of flooding. Since then, there has been a growing attention among scientists and policymakers for the consequences of flooding, making the flood risk analysis process more complex. This complexity results from difficulties in technical analyses, but also from the interpretation of the outcomes and the implications for other stakeholder groups.

To promote a well-informed interpretation of the outcomes of risk analyses in the decision-making process relating to flood risks it is necessary to pay explicit attention to the value and meaning of this information to all stakeholders involved. Traditionally, in the Netherlands engineers and policymakers dominated the process of flood risk management. However, in the light of societal changes, the notion that also other stakeholders are relevant to this process is gaining importance. In terms of flood management policy this may result in a shift in attention of risk management from solely risk prevention (e.g. building strong dikes) to a risk management strategy in which also stakeholders as the public and companies are involved. This involvement may take shape in emphasizing the importance of public preparation for evacuation, in increasing public flood risk awareness, or in increasing the acceptance of risk mitigating activities. To gain a better understanding of the determinants and dynamics of this process, it is important to take into account different perspectives such as risk perception, risk communication and institutional setting. Such analysis will be carried out in 2007 and 2008 within the framework of two research projects that cover the complete flood risk management cycle. The projects are sponsored by the Dutch knowledge impuls program ‘Living with water’. In this symposium research is presented from the PROmO-project that aims at the integration of the assessment and perception of flood risk, and the project “from threatening high water to evacuation”.

The symposium Dealing with Flood Risk includes researchers from various disciplines and backgrounds. In the symposium 4 presentations from the interdisciplinary research program will be presented.

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Strategies for Improved Exposure Assessment for Future Human Health Risk Assessments

Tuesday, June 19th, 14.00 – 15.30 and 16:00 – 18:00 hours

Chair:

Halûk Özkaynak, (US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory, RTP, NC USA)

Invited presenters:

  • Matti Jantunen, (KTL, Finland) ; Exposure Analysis Approaches for Assessment of Human Health Risks
  • Peter P. Egeghy, (US Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, RTP, NC USA); Exposure Factors Data to Support Health Risk Assessments for Children and Adults
  • Halûk Özkaynak, (US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Exposure Research Laboratory, RTP, NC USA); Probabilistic Modeling for Advanced Human Exposure Assessment
  • Dana Barr, (National Center for Environmental Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA USA); Role of Biomonitoring in Future Exposure and Risk Assessments
  • H. Christopher Frey, (Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC USA): Methodologies for Characterizing Variability and Uncertainty in Exposure and Risk Analysis

Aim:

Human exposures to environmental pollutants of concern vary depending on the characteristics of indoor or outdoor emission sources and resulting concentrations in different microenvironments where individuals may come in contact with these pollutants. Pollutants released outdoors may also penetrate indoors, and thus, indoor microenvironments may be a significant locus of exposure for both outdoor and indoor pollutants generated by human activities and other sources. Understanding the potential health risks from exposures to either indoor or outdoor generated pollutants requires knowledge of many factors. Critical factors that influence personal exposures to pollutants of concern include: physical and chemical factors that determine micro environmental pollution concentrations, time-activity patterns, and various exposure factors by age, gender and life style attributes. Exposure is a critical element of human health risk assessments. However, each component of the source-concentration-exposure-dose-effects human health risk paradigm has inherent variability and uncertainty due to complexity of pollutant emissions and the underlying environmental and biological systems. Strategies for addressing these technical challenges in conducting enhanced exposure or risk assessments often rely upon probabilistic methods for quantifying the sources and impacts of different variability and uncertainty in the critical assessment inputs. This symposium elaborates further on these exposure assessment issues in the context of advanced air pollution and multimedia exposure and risk assessments, applicable to different population groups. This symposium on Strategies for Improved Exposure Assessment for Future Human Health Risk Assessments begins with a brief introduction by the Chair on the key concepts and issues pertinent to most current and anticipated future environmental human exposure and risk assessments.

Each presenter will provide their insights into the strengths and weaknesses of current methods and underlying information used in assessing human exposures and risks to various environmental toxicants. The symposium will end with a 30 minute panel discussion involving both the presenters and the symposium attendees for further addressing and synthesizing some of the topics of concern, in order to improve the current science of exposure assessment in support of future human health risk assessments.

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Methodological Developments in Risk Perception and Communication

Tuesday, June 19th, 14.00 – 15.30 hours

Chair:

Peter Taylor-Gooby

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Peter Taylor-Gooby University of Kent : Overview of methodological issues
  • Gwenda Simons, University of Oxford : Interpersonal Communication and Risk
  • Emma Hughes, University of Cardiff : Risk and the Media
  • Karen Henwood and Nick Pidgeon, University of Cardiff : Narrative Approaches to Risk
  • Judith Mehta, University of East Anglia: Risk in Context

 

Aim:

Assessment of how people perceive and respond to risks often rests on data from structured social surveys that are designed on the assumptions that people’s responses to risky choices are based on their individual assessment of the options; that they are able to handle the kind of probabilistic assessments used in standard statistical approaches and that their assessments are not greatly complicated. These papers, all based on large recent empirical projects, use innovatory methods to show that the assumptions may be misleading. They develop understanding of risk responses and of the methods used in research in this field. This session will include contributions from the projects below and discuss methodological development in this field.

Interpersonal Communication and Risk: Understanding how people arrive at choices where risk is involved often focuses on the individual in isolation. This research considers how people may take into account the (emotional) responses of another person in developing their decision and the ways in which the views and feelings of those involved may be communicated. The research project uses two very different innovative methods: (a) Diary studies during using handheld Palm computers. For example, a recent diary study sampled 41 participants’ decisions involving other people made over a 3-week period. The resulting dataset contained 349 decisions and can be analysed using hierarchical linear modelling; and (b) Experiments in which the facial expressions of an advisor are communicated to a decision-maker via a video link to allow more controlled assessment of the impact of another person’s nonverbal signals on appraisal of risk. Preliminary findings show that interpersonal communication of emotion exerts an influence on decision making; but that visual access to another person’s facial expression does not seem to improve the quality of decisions for all people under all circumstances.

Narrative Approaches to Risk: Assessment of what people think about risk sometimes takes the responses they give to pre-structured questions in a sample survey at face value. However, the assumptions and values that underlie what people say are often complex and sometime contradictory. This paper presents a detailed in-depth study of the values and narratives of people living close to nuclear power stations and shows that their life-course experiences influence their everyday perception and responses to risk. Initial responses indicating a normalisation of continuing threats in everyday life may be associated with very real concerns which continue to influence how those interviewed think about and manage their experience. These findings are highly relevant to studies designed to assess public responses to innovation risks.

Risk and the Media: The imagery and framing contained in media presentations exerts a strong influence on the way perceive risky issues. The framing of risk is often a contested terrain. Stake-holders seek to influence framing in order to achieve particular outcomes. Drawing on detailed interviews with 40 prominent stake-holders, analysis of an extensive archive of media material collected over 12 months and 12 focus groups with members of the public, this research examines how power is exercised through framing in the fields of GM food, nanotechnology and stem cell research. It emphasizes the importance of a thorough analysis of media framing in understanding perceptions of and responses to risk.

Risk in Context: Much analysis of how people respond to risks, particularly in relation to public policy issues (for example, committing resources to health innovations or road-building) typically assume that individuals can make sensible rational probabilistic assessments of risk. This project is innovative in the way it asks people to evaluate risks not in isolation, but in the context of other risks, and in the way it examines how successful people are at dealing with probabilities. The findings of two large sample population surveys (total N=514) examining people ability to discuss and compare the probabilities of different kinds of everyday life risks and uncertainties cast doubt on the methods typically used in evaluating peoples’ preferences for different policy options.

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Natural-technological events (NATECHs): lessons and challenges for mitigation and response

Tuesday, June 19th, 14.00 – 15.30 hours

Chair:

Bastien Affeltranger, Institut National de l’Environnement Industriel et des Risques (INERIS) and Laura Steinberg, Environmental and Civil Engineering, Souther Methodist University (SMU)

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Bastien Affeltranger (INERIS, France) and Laura Steinberg (SMU): "Methodologies for lessons learned on NATECH: a comparative approach".
  • Ana-Maria Cruz and Elisabeth Krausmann (EC JRC Ispra, Italy): "Damage to and hazardous-materials releases from offshore oil and natural gas facilities following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita".
  • Valerio Cozzani (University of Bologna, Italy): "Structural response and damage scenarios".
  • Ernesto Salzano (Instituto di Recerche sulla Combustione, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy): "Early warning system and simplified tools for na-tech risks".
  • Matthieu Reiminger (Ineris, France): "Modelling structural response of industrial equipment to earthquake".
  • Adriana Galderisi and Massimiliano Pistucci (Departimento di Pianificazione e Scienza del Territorio, University of Napoli, Italy): "Understanding na-tech risk in urban enviroment to support land use planning mitigation actions".

 

Aim:

Natural-technological accidents, or NATECHs, reveal a particular vulnerability of industrial facilities to extreme, intense or localised natural hazards. This has been confirmed, in a recent past, by events such as the 1999 Izmit earthquake, the 2002 floods in Southeast France, and the 2004 hurricane Katrina in the U.S. In a way, NATECHs can be considered as an invitation to revisit expertise in risk analysis and assessment, management and emergency response – and from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

Despite a growing body of regulation for design and operation of industrial activities in areas prone to natural hazards, NATECHs remain a threat. This is, for instance, particularly the case in small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs). These are often located in densely populated areas, where they might release high quantities of hazardous material. Analysis and assessment of NATECH risks is not conducted systematically in SMEs, as skills and/or resources to do so might not be available. Likewise, SMEs are not always in a position to draw lessons from past NATECH events – and modify their process or safety features in order to reduce their vulnerability. Last but not least, expected changes in climate and weather patterns – no matter how unclear these changes are – are a signal that industrial activities are likely to be exposed to increasingly intense incentive hydrometeorological hazards. Industry located in coastal areas and deltas is a priority target to that kind of events.

This session on NATECHs aims at the following goals:

* Discuss a typology of SMEs’ vulnerabilities to natural hazards, and identify challenges for risk analysis and assessment

* Discuss the possibility of, and terms of reference for a magnitude scale for NATECH risks, hazards and events

* Discuss state of the art in NATECH mitigation and disseminate research results from Europe and the US

* Discuss specific NATECH features, such as performance assessment for safety barriers (technical and human/organisational); methodologies for post-accident investigation etc.

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The risk story model and risk perception – insights from experimental studies

Tuesday, June 19th, 16.00 – 18.00 hours

Chair:

Peter Wiedemann

Participants and their presentations:

 

  • Peter Wiedemann, Research Centre Juelich, Germany
  • Holger Schuetz, Holger MUT INB, Research Centre Juelich, Germany
  • Albena Spangenberg, Albena, MUT INB, Research Centre Juelich, Germany
  • Claudia Eitzinger, AlpS , Innsbruck
  • Martin Clauberg, University of Tennessee
  • Sonja Altstetter, Research Center Juelich, Germany

 

Aim:

 

The symposium will consist of the presentation of five interlinked experimental studies conducted to elaborate the story model that was introduced by Wiedemann, Schütz and Clauberg (2003). This model refers to common everyday-life patterns for interpreting events, which are also heavily used by the media, such as scandal stories, investigative exposés, tragedies, and disaster reports. Such interpretive patterns include (1) describing involved characters, i.e. casting the implicated persons in particular roles - preferably those of victim and perpetrator, hero or villain, etc. (2) ascribing objectives and motives (intentions), (3) exploring the conflict leading up to the event (dramatization), (4) attributing a logic to the event, describing the consequences (harm done), and (4) formulating a conclusion or lesson to be drawn (moral of the story), citing other "examples" which make the occurrence of the event or the moral of the story particularly clear. In this way, the stories which are used to portray a risk will effect risk perceptions.

Peter Wiedemann will give an overview of the story model and the state of art of narratives as a core concept in risk research. Based on the research on framing, narratives and stigma (see for instance Palmlund 1992, Heath 1997, Wiedemann et. al 2003, Finucance & Satterfield 2005) this paper outlines various approaches to research narratives and its use in qualitative as well quantitative research. One common aim of these studies is to examine the circumstances under which risks or damages come to be understood and acted upon by people in the contexts of their everyday experiences.

Then Albena Spangenberg will report the results of a cross cultural experimental study which investigates whether the story effect on risk perception is stable across different cultures, comparing a German and a Bulgarian sample. The results of her studies show that leniency and anger inducing stories effect risk perception in the same way in both cultures: A leniency story attenuates and an anger story amplifies risk perception.

Holger Schütz will report an experiment that aims at the influence of separate versus joint risk appraisal following the seminal work of Hsee (1996). In a mixed between / within subject design he analyses whether the evaluability hypotheses of Hsee helps to explain story effects on risk perception. The results of his experiment suggest that the story effects remain stable under both conditions, i.e. the separate as well as the joint risk appraisal.

Claudia Eitzinger seeks to analyze the risk story model with respect to damage perception by conducting an experimental study. Besides her interest in how anger inducing stories impact damage perception she analyses how safety expectancies and safety promises will alter the perception of loss-incurring events. Results give empirical evidence for story effects in damage perception. Furthermore, study findings prove that in case of high safety expectancies a negative event is seen to be less excusable, trust in safety and people feel more threatened. Finally, when strong safety promises are given, again the perceived threat to be higher.

Martin Clauberg will report about an experiment that tested how the peripheral versus central information processing will alter story effects on risk perception. He found that under both conditions the story effects are the same: The leniency story decrease and the outrage story increase risk perception. Furthermore, the outrage story produces a greater effect as the leniency story compared with the “neutral” story as a benchmark.

Sonja Altstetter will present her paper entitled "Approach toward a comprehensive risk identification" in which an experiment is described in which the risk story approach is applied to corporate risk stories.

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Individual Presentations

The abstracts of the individual presentations can be downloaded here.

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