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Transparency and risk communication – essential ingredients of successful chemical management

Information on chemicals safety is increasing as a result of national, regional and global programmes. This can be seen for example when consulting OECD eChemPortal or when searching information on chemicals on the website of the European Chemicals Agency. While this development is certainly positive it at the same time poses new challenges for making the information on chemical risks and their management available for various audiences in an understandable and useful way.

Transparency and risk communication are essential ingredients of any successful chemicals management system. They are not optional add-ons once everything else is ready but to be effective they should be integrated into the chemicals management systems at the design phase.

Transparency and risk communication can provide many benefits:

  • They help building trust among stakeholders and general public that chemical risks are adequately assessed and managed
  • They enable better decisions on how to address the risks
  • They facilitate predictability and smoother implementation of risk management policies
  • They help managing crisis when they occur, or even can help preventing incidents in growing to crisis

While transparency and risk communication are not new topics, they are subject to continuous active development and often spark controversial views among stakeholders. Policy makers need to continue re-checking how transparency and risk communication are applied in the context of ever evolving chemicals management. This includes for example new scientific findings about chemical hazards and how to assess them, increasing amount of information about hazardous chemicals in products, and the challenges of the communication landscape in the modern world with social media and increasing mistrust in science based decision making.

Please join the panel of the 2021 Helsinki Chemicals Forum on 28 April discussing the above and pose your questions or comments in the virtual setting. Composition of the panel:

Jukka Malm – Deputy Executive Director, European Chemicals Agency

• Apolline Roger – ClientEarth
• Julian Schenten – University of Darmstadt, SOFIA – Society for Institutional Analysis
• Pelle Moos – Team leader Safety and Health, BEUC
• Violaine Verougstraete – Chemicals Management Director, Eurometaux
• Mirva Kipinoinen – Director Communications, Tukes