Building on its general risk governance framework, IRGC has developed a conceptual framework for the global risk governance of nanotechnology published in a White Paper in 2006 and Policy Brief in 2007. Its purpose is to present decision-makers with a systematic and integrated approach to analysing and managing the anticipated risks, challenges and opportunities of nanotechnology.
The framework intends to:
- Distinguish between risk problems that are simple, complex, uncertain, and ambiguous;
- Ensure the early and meaningful participation of all stakeholders, including civil society, by assessing and actively integrating their views, values, and potential roles;
- Incorporate the principles of good governance, including transparency, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, sustainability, feasibility, equity and fairness, and respect for the rule of law.
The IRGC Risk Governance Framework breaks down into three main phases: pre-assessment, appraisal, and management. The appraisal step includes traditional risk assessment and the novel element of concern assessment, both directed towards best scientific analysis of physical impacts as well as the social impacts expected from the application of the technologies.
IRGC believes that, with respect to nanotechnology, a risk governance framework should be:
- Adaptive, valuing flexibility in the application of risk management strategies as knowledge and understanding of the field develops;
- Collaborative, sharing information, skills and expertise internationally among different agencies and stakeholders;
- Global, proposing international minimal “level playing field” guidelines and reference models to generate confidence in safety management in a global economy;
- Realistic and fast, recognising that such a dynamic field calls for active and on-going learning, rather than an “after the fact” approach; the speed of learning may be accelerated by sharing and building on emerging experience on a global basis;
- Responsive to essential human values, such as equity, respect of ethics, safety, equal opportunities and the right to privacy.