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The European risk assessment institute

Delegate Minister in charge of Parity and Equal Opportunity Nicole Ameline, who is also Vice Chairwoman of the Basse-Normandie Regional Council prompted the Basse-Normandie Region to create the Institute Europeen des Risques (IER, European risk assessment institute) in April 2002.

The French Ministry of the Ecology and Sustainable Development has just selected the Honfleur-based institute (Calvados département) to participate in the Ministrys research program called Risque Décision Territoire (RDT, a program addressing risks & risk-related decision-making). A multidisciplinary research team working out of the Seine estuary is already being set up to tackle the issues. In the spring of 2003, the French Ministry of the Ecology and Sustainable Development launched its Risque Décision Territoire program. The goal of the five-year program is to meet the public authorities demand for expertise, advice and finalized research to network existing research teams on natural or industrial risk-related, scientific issues, within a given region. The RDT program should also help draw up national core briefs on different risks and study the correlation between regional and national decisions. A call for research proposals for the program has been launched. The call focuses on the question, "What scientific support should be provided to local stakeholders for natural and industrial risk management within a given region?" The Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development has confirmed the intellectual approach that underpinned the set up of the IER, by appointing the Institute coordinator of a project that brings together Normandy-based university laboratories. Three mutually enhancing facilities An issue has to be considered from a regional and cross-departmental standpoint to improve the way technological risks are integrated into planning policies and town and country planning. Hazardous situations result from a combination of several potentially hazardous activities and special local features. Consequently, cross-referenced approaches where each piece of information on a given region can be correlated with the other pieces of information are required. This also involves looking beyond the technical and regulatory framework of one field to build a multidisciplinary, forward looking and dynamic outlook on regional development. This means building on the knowledge and experience of national and European regions facing the same challenges. This was the starting point for the setup of a facility mainly acting as an interface between administrators, experts and citizens to promote ongoing discussions and foster the emergence of a common risk culture. This is how the IER was born.,The Institutes activities focus on three mutually enhancing facilities: an observatory, a development hub and a resource center. The observatory of risk management practices is a station handling watch activities, networking, and feedback and comparative engineering on a European level. The development hub is in charge of promoting multidisciplinary research in human and social sciences, coordinating research teams, and of the operational transfer of the research. The resource center structures, builds on, enhances and disseminates the skills, knowledge and expertise collected by the observatory of practices and the development hub. The Seine estuary is an outstanding territorial base "The work of the research team we have set up to meet the demand of the Ministry of the Ecology and Sustainable Development will provide methodological support to local stakeholders and risk managers. It will also give them elements for their decision-making, their management, prevention, and information policies, and for land management and sustainable development," explained Patrice Roux-Caillebot, IER Director. "This will help them anticipate within the scope of industrial risks broadened to include the transportation of hazardous materials. It will also help them tackle tomorrows challenges stemming from regulatory changes and from societal policies." The research path will develop a comprehensive analysis of the new ways risks evolve within the country. The analysis will be supplemented by an examination of how to transcribe these components into planning documents and policies, the redefinition of roles and responsibilities in new risk fields and how to share information. The Seine estuary, encompassing the Havre basin and upstream part of the Port-Jérôme basin, will be the territorial base for the 24-month multidisciplinary effort. At first, geographers under the scientific responsibility of Eliane Propeck-Zimmermann, Senior Lecturer at the University of Caen Basse-Normandie, will be working with legal councilors under the scientific responsibility of Philippe Guillot, Senior lecturer at the University of Rouen. Later, economists, computer experts and sociologists will also provide their input. The Institute will have to coordinate the proposal and enhance the research for administrators. It will lend its tools, such as the observatory of practices and the resource center, to support research. It will also promote the exchange of experience with other French laboratories and organize the networking of the different research projects addressing the field of industrial risks/human science. For instance, coordination and joint actions have been scheduled with the RIVES Laboratory of the Lyons Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l'Etat., ,contact -,Institut Européen des Risques - Patrice Roux-Caillebot, Manager,Tél. +33 (0)2.31.14.43.03. Fax. +33 (0)2.31.14.60.31. E-mail: direction@institut-risques.org Source : ScienceTech Basse-Normandie Newsletter,http://www.basse-normandie.net/lettre/index_en.html ,

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