Discussion Paper on Foundations of Risk Analysis Developed by SRA

The paper provides some open-minded reflections on fundamental concepts and principles of our risk analysis field.


The idea of the discussion paper on Foundations of Risk Analysis is to prepare a document which reflects on key scientific pillars of risk analysis, the core of our scientific, regulatory and technical field, the elements that unify our professional discipline, with both current and future perspectives.  The document does not aim to provide some agreed basic pillars for risk analysis as a field. Rather, it wants to serve as a stimulator of discussion about what these pillars can and should be.  The goal is, then, not to establish a unified consensual perspective on the area of risk analysis– providing the right views on specific definitions and methods – but to highlight what are some of the main issues, their nature and rationale, and lay the ground for discussing them.  We do not intend this to convey an “official” SRA opinion on the topics addressed; rather, this document reflects the thoughts of the authors. Indeed, not all of the authors agree with everything in this paper, but we all support the publication of this paper as a means to foster reflections and exchange of ideas, hoping that this will help to advance the foundations of the field of risk analysis.

The discussion is open to the contribution of all members of any Specialty Group, and others.  We believe that many can benefit from reading the paper, a rather short summary of some open-minded reflections on fundamental concepts and principles of our risk analysis field.     

At this stage the paper includes discussions of the following topics: 

  1. Risk analysis and science
  2. The risk concept
  3. Risk management principles
  4. Uncertainty in risk analysis
  5. Confronting deep uncertainties, surprises and the unforeseen 
  6. Reliability, validity and trustworthiness of risk analysis methods and  results (including suggestions of how to make them more trustworthy)
  7. The future of risk analysis:  meeting the challenges. Emerging trends.

We aim at including other issues at a later stage.  The document is planned to be updated from time to time to reflect the ongoing discussion,  addressing comments and suggestions made. Please contact terje.aven@uis.no if you have some ideas and/or views about the document and potential future work.       

The paper has been a result of an initiative taken by the Specialty Group on Foundational Issues in Risk Analysis (FRASG) of the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA). It has been developed by the following group of experienced and active researchers:  

Terje Aven (leader)
Henning Boje Andersen 
Tony Cox
Enrique López Droguett
Michael Greenberg 
Seth Guikema 
Wolfgang Kröger
Ortwin Renn 
Enrico Zio

The work has been carried out during the first part of 2015 and was presented for the SRA Council in June 2015.