Risk communication involves an interactive exchange of information and opinions throughout the risk analysis process. One component of a robust risk analysis is providing opportunities for dialogue with stakeholders in an ongoing way, with information communicated clearly and comprehensibly to facilitate active input into risk assessment and risk management planning, and inform decision-making.
Communication with potentially affected communities prior to and during the risk assessment process will help developers with framing the scope of the risk assessment, identifying concerns that should be taken into account, and determining whether to move forward. Developers will need to provide answers to community questions, adjust their plans as necessary to respond to concerns, and seek community authorization for the study to be undertaken. The mechanism for community deliberation and agreement is best determined by the community itself according to its norms.
In most national regulatory processes, the input of citizens/communities is taken into consideration during the specific public consultation phases of the decision-making process. If their input identifies scientific issues that were not adequately addressed in the environmental risk assessment, that input might trigger a reconsideration of the risk assessment. In some countries, the use of genetically modified organisms is also subject to conduct of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). SEA facilitates consideration of impacts from a general class of intervention and is designed to support policy and political decision-making. ESIA is suited to the implementation of specific projects and examines their potential positive and negative impacts in the areas of environment, socioeconomics, and health. Both SEA and ESIA require substantial stakeholder input.
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