On 1-2 March the research program Risk and Society at Gothenburg Research Institute held a workshop to present ongoing research in the program. Special invited guest was Frederic Bouder from Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning, University of Stavanger. Frederic Bouder is also the president of Society for Risk Analysis Europe.
His presentation was titled: The evolving role of science for policy analysis: a transatlantic study, and focused on the trend of transparancy. In recent years a number of scandals involving the pharmaceutical sector have emerged. Companies have been accused of covering up negative results of drug testing, and regulators have been accused of being to close to the industry. The remedy to restore public trust has been to increase transparancy, for example by releasing massive amounts of documentation, trail protocols and results. But how do the public handle all this data, and does it really rebuild trust?
The two days of presentations also included Ragnar Löfstedt, Professor at King’s College in London and president of King’s Centre for Risk Management. He talked about the changing regulatory environment in Europe and highlighted a few trends. One is the growing adversarial nature of european regulation – the regulation model has moved from a consensual model to an adversarial one. For example: A number of NGO’s are more active than ever before and are working with politicians and scientist to question regulatory bodies. It is more ”us against them” rather than finding a way towards a solution.
Max Boholm, PhD. and researcher at GRI held a presentation titled Risk, Language and Discourse, on the topic of the term ”risk” and how it is used. In the research literature there is often a focus on the myriad of definitions and various usages of the word risk, emphasizing differences between how people and actors in society employ the term. In this presentation Max Boholm proposes to instead focus on finding out what unites different understandings of risk. To identify what the unity consists of will lead to a better understanding of the concept of risk.
Associate professor Annelie Sjölander Lindqvist, presented research from the project Governance
and talked about Swedish wildlife management and the possibilities and hinders for sustainable and agreed-upon wildlife management. How capable is the governance system and the management system to adapt to the circumstances brought about by ecological changes (climate change, increased ungulate and large carnivore populations)? Environmental collaborative governance is increasingly promoted as a useful and perhaps also necessary mean to govern conflicting goals, balancing different interests and reconcile local concerns without compromising wildlife population viability. Read more about the project: https://gri.gu.se/english/research/risk-and-society—governance
Syna Ouattara, PhD. is currently doing research on risk communication during the recent ebola outbreak in Guinea. His presentation was titled Uncertainty and Risk Communication: the Recent Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Response in the Shadow of Mistrust in Guinea. He summarizes his presentation like this:
”During the recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa (2013-2016), community resistance contributed to the startling speed and persistence of the epidemic. Distrust of health workers – sometimes resulting in aggressive attacks on those trying to help – presented a great challenge to the Ebola eradication initiative. Why did numerous local communities so strongly resist the efforts by public health authorities and epidemic response agencies to control the epidemic and why was this resistance to such an extent directed against the foreign personnel on these teams? This study draws on anthropological fieldwork (January – February 2018) in the administrative area of N’Zérékoré, commonly called Guinée Forestière. It was in this region where the first Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases surfaced and then spread to the rest of Guinea and across the borders to neighboring countries. The study argues that a key contributor to the resistance of afflicted communities in Guinea was the widespread distribution of conspiracy theories regarding the origin of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. In addition, many of the afflicted communities interpreted the virus not as a disease but as the result of malevolent sorcery. These factors together created the strong resistance against the ebola response teams. The study thus argues that the spread of the virus was partly the result of a notorious communication failure between the response teams and the communities, in turn explaining why local communities put themselves and the teams at risk.”
Read more about the project here (in Swedish): https://gri.handels.gu.se/aktuellt/nyheter/n//ebola–haxeri-och-kulturkrockar-i-vastafrika.cid1433238. Also read an interview with Syna here (in Swedish).
Simon Larsson, PhD. in social anthropology and researcher in the program Mistra Environmental Nanosafety introduced the program. Read more about it here: http://www.mistraenvironmentalnanosafety.org/sv
Magnus Jansson, PhD. in psychology and researcher at GRI presented the report: Attitudes towards nanomaterials and nanotechnology among Swedish expert stakeholders. Read more about the reseach project Nano futures: Exploring risk, promise and hope of emergent technology.
Associate professor Monica Lindh Montoya presented research under the title: Innovation advisors’ perspectives on risk regarding nanotechnology.
Read more about the research program Risk and Society.