Risk and Regulatory Policy

Improving the Governance of Risk

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We expect governments to protect citizens from the adverse consequences of hazardous events. At the same time it is not possible or necessarily in the best interest of citizens for all risks to be removed. A risk-based approach to the design and implementation of regulation can help to ensure that regulatory approaches are efficient, effective and account for risk/risk tradeoffs across policy objectives. Risk-based approaches to the design of regulation and compliance strategies can improve the welfare of citizens by providing better protection, more efficient government services and reduced costs for business. Across the OECD there is great potential to improve the operation of risk policy as few governments have taken steps to develop a coherent risk governance policy for managing regulation.  

This publication presents recent OECD research and analysis on risk and regulatory policy.  The chapters discuss core challenges today. They offer measures for developing, or improving, coherent risk governance policies. Topics include: challenges in designing regulatory policy frameworks to manage risks; different cultural and legal dimensions of risk regulatory concepts across OECD; analytical models and principles for decision making in uncertain situations; key elements of risk regulation and governance institutions; the use of management-based regulation to help firms make risk-related behavioural changes; an analysis of the risk-based frameworks of regulators in five OECD countries (Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom) and across four sectors: environment, food safety, financial markets and health and safety; and the elements for designing formal guidelines for risk prioritisation, assessment, management and communication.




Annex 6.A1


The research was conducted during a six-week period from mid-September to end- October 2008. The project explored some of the risk-based frameworks used by regulators in the environmental, food and financial services sectors in a number of countries. The purpose of the research was to draw on examples of risk-based frameworks in development and use, not to perform a systematic survey of their state of development. Desk-based research was conducted with respect to food, environmental and financial services regulators in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Australia, and occupational health and safety in the UK and the Netherlands. In addition, interviews were conducted with one or more officials from each of the regulators listed below. Others were contacted, but it was not possible to arrange interviews within the time constraints. All interviews were conducted on a semi-structured basis, using the questionnaire in Annex 6.A2. Interviews lasted between 1-1.5 hours; contemporaneous notes were taken and written up immediately after each interview.


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