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EEA Calls for Improved Governance of Technological Risk

EEA23 January 2013: The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released a report on the precautionary principle and technological innovation titled “Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation,” which includes 20 historical and contemporary case studies.

These cases draw on five major issue areas: health hazards; ecosystems; emerging technologies; costs, justice, innovation; and science and governance. Specific cases include lead in petrol, mercury poisoning and Minamata disease, climate change, nanotechnology, mobile phones, and GM crops.

Drawing on these case studies, the report offers recommendations for implementing a precautionary approach to technological innovation, by, for example, reducing delays between early warnings and actions, and acknowledging complexity. Other recommendations include rethinking environment and health research; improving risk assessments; fostering cooperation between business, government and citizens; and correcting market failures using the polluter pays principle.

“Late Lessons from Early Warnings” was commissioned in recognition of the need for the more effective governance in the face of the increasing speed and spread of technological innovation. The report updates an earlier volume released in 2001, titled “Late Lessons from Early Warnings: The Precautionary Principle 1896-2000.” [EEA Press Release] [Publication: Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation, Volume 2] [Publication: Late Lessons from Early Warnings: The Precautionary Principle 1896-2000, Volume 1]