Risk Governance Deficits

Policy Brief: Analysis, illustration and recommendations
Source: International Risk Governance Council (IRGC)

‘The International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) defines risk governance as the identification, assessment, management and communication of risks in a broad context. It includes the totality of actors, rules, conventions, processes and mechanisms concerned with how relevant risk information is collected, analysed and communicated, and how and by whom risk management decisions are taken.

IRGC’s approach to risk governance was originally described in its white paper “Risk Governance – Towards an Integrative Approach”, published in 2005. The IRGC risk governance framework offers those concerned with risk assessment and management a methodology for handling risk that is comprehensive and sensitive to context. It has subsequently been adopted by many organisations as the basis for their own risk analysis and as a tool to help develop appropriate management strategies.

In subsequent work on specific risk issues a key question has been: What are the deficits in risk governance processes and structures that need improvement? As more subject-specific projects have been undertaken and completed, this question has arisen ever more frequently. IRGC’s own work therefore laid the foundation for a project which has sought to further explore the general concept of risk governance deficits.

Deficits can be found throughout the risk governance process and in most sectors, from when unsafe forms of food are unintentionally introduced, to ineffective and costly regulation in fisheries management. With change can come great opportunities, including technical and scientific innovations that can bring improvements to health, society and the environment. But change also brings risks, and these risks require governance if we are to maximise the associated opportunities.

In November 2009, IRGC published the report “Risk Governance Deficits: An analysis and illustration of the most common deficits in risk governance”. The report identifies and describes a number of common and recurring deficits in risk governance processes and structures.

With this policy brief, IRGC aims to make its research and insights on risk governance deficits available to anyone responsible for risk governance processes, or elements thereof, whether in government, industry, academia, research organisations or the non-profit sector. We hope readers will use the concept of risk governance deficits to identify significant gaps or limitations in the risk governance structures and processes in their own organisations. With this knowledge, it is hoped they may then be able to develop steps to remedy the identified deficits.’

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