Risk perception, communication and management: Lessons for policy makers  
Date: November 11, 2003

For a full report of the day's events, as well as copies of the presentations and photos, please refer to the bottom of this page.

Risk communication has its roots in risk perception which is related to human value judgments. According to Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, a series of variables influence how the public perceive risk. By uncovering these variables it should be possible to gauge how the public perceives a particular risk and form an appropriate communications strategy.

To illustrate an example of regulatory failure in risk communication, Löfstedt examined the Swedish acrylamide in food scare in 2002. Research found that acrylamide – a material that had shown to be a carcinogen in rats – could originate in cooked, especially fried food. This data was published in April 2002 and caused a media frenzy, resulting in high levels of public awareness and concern over the issue. A number of communication issues amplified the media and public reaction, said Löfstedt. These included information vacuums, the involvement of too many organizations with communication roles not rigourously defined, communicating uncertainty, and the use of messages that amplified the perception of risk.

Finally, Löfstedt emphasized the need for researchers, regulators and communicators to operate as a team in managing emerging food issues. In general, he concluded, communicating risk is never easy and each issue requires an individual approach – there is no universally applicable communication solution.

  Speaker: Prof. Ragnar Löfstedt, Director, King's College London, Centre for Risk Management  
  Professor Ragnar Löfstedt is currently a Professor of Risk Management and Director of King's Centre for Risk Management, at the International of Policy International Policy Institute, School of Social Science and Public Policy. He is also a board member of the organizing and the executive committees for the Society for Risk Analysis-Europe.
Prof. Löfstedt is the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Risk Research and the author/editor of eight books and over 30 peer-reviewed articles, as well as editor of the Earthscan publications' Risk, Society and Policy book series. In December 2000 Prof. Lofstedt was awarded the Chauncey Starr Award for exceptional contributions to the field of risk analysis for someone under the age of 40 by the Society for Risk Analysis.
  Hosting MEP: Mrs. Ria G.H.C. Oomen-Ruijten  

Mrs Oomen-Ruijten is member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, as well as Vice-Chairman of the Delegation for relations with South Africa. She has received a higher vocational diploma in PR information/communications. She was National chairman for the Youth CDA Federation and member of CDA federation executive (1976), and a member of the EPP Council and Bureau (1989-1999).
She is also very socially involved as chairman of various social welfare organizations, including the Disputes Settlement Committees Foundation (1984 to date).


  Co-sponsor: The European Policy Centre  
  The European Policy Centre is a leading Brussels-based 'think tank' whose mission is to contribute to the construction of a Europe equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century by advancing the process of European integration.

To achieve this, The EPC encourages a structured debate among all significant interest groups, and channels the results to policy-makers.

The Better Regulation Programme integrates the work of the Centre on better regulation and other "risk-related" activities. It includes the Risk Forum; major projects and workshops, seminars and conferences.

Website : http://www.theepc.be
Click on thumbnails to view larger photographs.

  Documents to download  

Prof. Ragnar Löfstedt presentation

Prof. Löfstedt article on Science Communication

Full seminar report

  Speaker name here  

Hosting MEP:

  Mrs. Ria G.H.C. Oomen-Ruijten
  The European Policy Centre  
The AllChemE seminars are an open area for debate. The opinions expressed in the AllChemE seminars do not necessarily reflect the views of AllChemE or its partner organisations.