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Risk Communication

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Risk Communication

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  1. Risk Communication Ortwin Renn University of Stuttgart And DIALOGIK gGmbH

  2. Part 1 • WhyRisk Communication? • The Context of Risk Communication

  3. Objectives of Risk Communication • Enlightenment: Making people able to understand risks and become “risk-literate” • Behavioral changes: Making people aware of potential risks and help them to take protective actions • Trust building: Assisting risk management agencies to generate and sustain trust • Conflict resolution: Assisting risk managers to involve major stakeholders and affected parties to take part in the risk management process

  4. Relevance of Risk Communication • Health and Safety are top concerns of people in industrial countries • People demand more information and transparency on decisions that affect their welfare • Trust in traditional decision makers is low and replaced by demand of participation • Risk communication is legally demanded in many countries

  5. Important Contextual Aspects • Types of audiences: • Peripheral versus central • Cultural subgroups: entrepreneurial, egalitarian, bureaucratic, individualistic • Sociopolitical climate and style • Adversarial, consensual, corporatist and fiduciary • Levels of risk debates • linear, complex, uncertain but uncontested risks, uncertain and ambiguous risks

  6. Part 2 Some basics of communication

  7. Some Major Insights from Research • Risk communication starts with an excellent record of risk management • Risk communicators need to specify in advance: • Purpose of risk communication (orientation, behavioral advise, involvement) • Level of risk debate (routine, uncertain but uncontested, highly contested) • Types of audiences to be approached • Available risk communication resources and channels • Follow-up after the risk communication program is completed • Design for evaluation

  8. Some Major Insights II • Risk communication needs to address: • Difference between risk and hazard • Difference between random event and faulty behavior • The process of risk management decision making • The trade-offs and value conflicts when making risk management or regulatory decisions (incl. benefits) • The meaning of standards and the respective protective goal behind them • Trust and credibility cannot be “produced” or “manufactured” but only earned in terms of performance and effective communication

  9. Communication Needs of Targeted Audiences • Regulators: risk management options; experts assessments; input from stakeholders and the public about their preferences • Experts: data base; treatment of uncertainty: rationale for risk evaluations • Industry: performance data, expert judgments; liability issues; regulatory actions • Environmental groups: data on hazards, performance records of users; case studies; issues of equity and env. justice

  10. Communication Needs of the Media and the Public • Media: events; signs of dissent and conflict, link to human (mis)behavior • Consumers: hazard information; personal risks, link to personal interests and values • Bystanders: issues of fairness and equity; link to societal values and visions; signs of blame and guilt

  11. Summary • Risk communication serves the needs of enlightenment, behavioral advise; trust building and conflict resolution • Risk communication needs to address: complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity • There is no recipe book, but good advise available to improving risk communication • Risk communication must be sensitive to context, audience and topic • Risk communication is a necessary complement to both risk assessment and management