All stakeholders, and perhaps especially the public, should acknowledge that sustainable management of complex public risk is always going to be a matter of judgement. Such judgements will always face challenges of uncertainty and controversy and, while there are legitimate questions to be asked about who should make the decision and the effectiveness of their chosen approaches, it is central that decision makers receive a clear mandate and appropriate political support and trust. The concepts discussed encourage approaches to risk that permit it to be intelligently understood and managed. They are intended to foster appropriate approaches to risk decision making by those in authority, to ensure that decision making is proportionate, ethical, fair and trusted, and perceived to be so by those on whose behalf the decisions are made. It is useful to distinguish ‘how the public thinks about risk’ and ‘how public risk perception and choices are thought about by authority’, and both deserve critical scrutiny. Public pressure around environmental risk has promoted a more balanced conception that recognizes decisions are not based only on formalised knowledge about likely impacts and that it is necessary to think more broadly about ways to implement sustainable management actions. However, a similar approach is lacking in other areas, such as lifestyle risk. Cross fertilisation of good practice between different areas will be important for future improvement. It is necessary to achieve a balance between placing greater emphasis upon the contextual logic of public risk choices whilst also promoting the insight available from scientific inquiries based on data acquisition, statistical analysis and probability theory. Ten principles have been developed to address a number of important issues that have arisen from a wide-ranging evaluation of contemporary successes and failures in public risk interventions. The first four principles are intended to guide decision makers on ways to utilise insights into risk concepts in making policy decisions. Principles 5-8 relate to improving the quality of risk analysis and numbers 9 and 10 are suggestions for helping the public to make better risk decisions for themselves. Finally, an additional principle, number 11, acknowledges that we live in a dynamic world and reminds policy makers that this includes a need to respond to developments in approaches to the consideration and management of risk.
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Ball, D., Humpherson, E., Johnson, B., McDowell, M., Ng, R., Radaelli, C., Renn, O., Seedhouse, D., Spiegelhalter, D., Uhl, A., & Watt, J. (2019). Improving Society's Management of Risks. A Statement of Principles. Collaboration to explore new avenues to improve public understanding and management of risk (CAPUR).
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