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Global Risk Regulation, by Alberto Alemanno

By HEC Paris

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This unconventional and interdisciplinary course focuses on societies' efforts to assess and manage health, safety and environmental risks. As more and more citizens come to reap the benefits of open trade on a global scale, as well as extended lifespan and high quality of life, they also seem to expect public authorities to deliver more protection against those threats, whether industrial or natural. Amid contemporary preoccupations with risks, managing threats to society has become one of the central tasks of governments and often involves private companies. Due to their inherent global dimension, risks today call for global governance solutions. Yet, risks are culturally constructed, socially contested, and differently perceived not only across societies but also across time and space. This poses governments the challenge to rationalize decision-making and urgently call them to coordinate their regulatory actions. As will be illustrated along the course, any model of risk regulation has to come to terms with issues such as: selecting the risks deserving regulatory attention, feeding the best scientific advice into decision-making, deciding in situations of scientific uncertainty, defining the role of non-scientific values, ensuring an open and participative form of decision- making, calculating the costs and benefits of regulation as well as their distributional and equity effects. As a result, optimization tools, such as economic analysis and sound science, dominate the risk regulatory process across the industrialized world and are spreading also among developing countries today. Yet - although on the rise - neither sound science nor economic analysis are saved from criticism. Case studies of global risk regulation are drawn from a broad range of issue areas, including food safety regulation, public health law, chemical regulation, aviation safety, international trade and lifestyle risks, such as tobacco and alcohol consumption. A special focus will be devoted to the important question of the role of science and technical expertise in reaching decisions about how to assess and manage global risks. Moreover, differences existing between EU and US risk regulation, due inter alia to diverging administrative and political cultures as well as risk perception systems, will be highlighted along the course. The ambition of the course is to provide an overview of the emerging field of Risk Regulation and Policy through the discussion of its main themes. This is a 6-week course provided to Master students at HEC Paris.