Risk governance

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 define some of the key concepts in this area as follows. 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.

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 and adapting frameworks and guidelines to help respond to particular policy challenges. You can read more about the full range of our activities elsewhere on this website, but the list below highlights some of our key publications.

The IRGC Risk Governance Framework

Risk governance deficits

Governance of emerging risks

Governance of systemic risks

Risk regulation