Risk Governance: towards and integrative approach

A framework by International Risk Governance Council

Ortwin Renn, with annexes by Peter Graham | 2005

In this comprehensive white paper Risk Governance: Towards an integrative approach – coordinated and edited by Professor Ortwin Renn – the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) brought together: “an integrated analytic framework for risk governance which provides guidance for the development of comprehensive assessment and management strategies to cope with risks, in particular at the global level. The framework integrates scientific, economic, social and cultural aspects and includes the effective engagement of stakeholders.” 

In this article the headlines are summarized. In the light of history this framework is noteworthy and marks the next phase in thinking of the risk concepts. It focuses on “the improvement of risk governance strategies for risks with international implications and which have the potential to harm human health and safety, the economy, the environment, and/or the fabric of society at large.”

“The concept of risk governance comprises a broad picture of risk: not only does it include what has been termed ‘risk management’ or ‘risk analysis’, it also looks at how risk-related decision-making unfolds when a range of actors is involved, requiring coordination and possibly reconciliation between a profusion of roles, perspectives, goals and activities. Indeed, the problem-solving capacities of individual actors, be they government, the scientific community, business players, NGOs or civil society as a whole, are limited and often unequal to the major challenges facing society today.”

Risk is understood in this document as an uncertain consequence of an event or an activity with respect to something that humans value 

  Kates et al. 1985 

“Risks such as those related to increasingly violent natural disasters, food safety or critical infrastructures call for coordinated effort amongst a variety of players beyond the frontiers of countries, sectors, hierarchical levels, disciplines and risk fields. Finally, risk governance also illuminates a risk’s context by taking account of such factors as the historical and legal background, guiding principles, value systems and perceptions as well as organisational imperatives.”


Kates, R.W., Hohenemser, C. and Kasperson, J. (1985) Perilous Progress: Managing the Hazards of Technology. Boulder: Westview Press. 

Renn, O. and Graham, P. (2005) Risk Governance: Towards an integrative approach. Geneva: International Governance Council.



Read white paper

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest