The Lorentz workshop on Risk Regulation and Society addresses the question of how to regulate societal risks in a responsive and effective way. Core topics of the workshop include how people and public officials perceive risks, what the different implications are of various forms of stakeholder engagement for risk regulation and how such risks can be effectively regulated and managed.
Societal risks come in many forms, ranging from systemic institutional failures (e.g. financial crisis) to the outbreak of viruses (like Zika) and food security issues. These examples signal an important contemporary challenge in risk assessment and regulation: how to adequately balance and process the vast amount of evidence provided by different stakeholders and risk assessment studies into effective regulatory decisions? The affordances of new technologies and big data have reinforced the existing trend towards evidence-based risk assessment, which is believed to contribute to more objective information required for effective regulation. At the same time, most recent crises and scandals demonstrate that even when faced with a wealth of data, risk is and remains very much in the eye of the beholder. More importantly, these societal challenges often transcend single industries or jurisdictions, necessitating coordination among public and private stakeholders across different policy domains and at both the national and international level. Regulating financial markets or ensuring food security and global public health are prime examples of the complex horizontal and vertical coordination with stakeholders and risk assessment associated with major risks and regulatory efforts to remedy them. This workshop aims to integrate theoretical and methodological approaches concerning effective and responsive regulation, and to tackle the question of how both responsive stakeholder engagement and smart use of new technologies can lead to better regulatory governance in an integrative fashion.