All change entails risks, but the potential for harm is often tightly intertwined with potential benefits and opportunities. Risk governance allows societies to benefit from change—helping to create the necessary conditions for innovation to take place—while minimising the negative consequences of any associated risks. The governance of global, systemic risks is a particular challenge, requiring cohesion between countries and the inclusion and collaboration of government, industry, academia and civil society.
At the EPFL International Risk Governance Center (IRGC), we take a pragmatic, problem-driven approach and therefore adapt our definitions if this is necessary to respond to the specificities of particular risks, domains or activities. We define some of the key concepts in this area as follows:
Risk: the uncertain consequences of an activity or event with respect to something that humans value.
Governance: the actions, processes, traditions and institutions by which authority is exercised and decisions are taken and implemented.
Risk governance: the application of governance principles to the identification, assessment, management and communication of risks.
These concepts provide the foundation for IRGC’s work, which involves developing frameworks and guidelines, and adapting them to help respond to particular policy challenges. Read more about the full range of our activities on our website. Some of our key publications are highlighted in the list below.
Risk governance framework
- Introduction to the IRGC risk governance framework, Revised version, IRGC, 2017
Guidelines for emerging risk governance
- IRGC guidelines for emerging risk governance, 2015
Governance of systemic risks
- Governance of slow-developing catastrophic risks: Fostering complex adaptive system and resilience thinking, 2015, Report
- IRGC guidelines for the governance of systemic risks, 2018, Report
- Critical infrastructure resilience – Lessons from insurance, 2019, Policy brief
- Resource guide on resilience, 2016, Volume 1
- Resource guide on resilience, 2018, Volume 2
- Improving risk regulation, 2015, Report
- Planning adaptive risk regulation, 2016, Conference report
- Transatlantic patterns of risk regulation, 2017, Report
- Involving stakeholders in the risk governance process, 2020, Guidebook
- Risk governance and the low-carbon transition, 2021, Policy brief
Sustainability of emerging technologies
- Ensuring the environmental sustainability of emerging technologies
- Edited volume, 2023
- Workshop report, 2022
- Workshop summary, 27—28 October 2021