Please see attached, for your information, a document on Risk Assessment – Part 1 of a three-part series which will be
released over the coming months (the complete series out later this year).
Making decisions in the face of uncertainty: Understanding risk
Forward – About this series
As the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor (PMCSA), part of my terms of reference is to promote the use of
science-based evidence to support public policy making, both within traditional policy domains and also relating to
questions of new and emerging technologies.
Increasingly, this work requires explaining to government and publics how science can assist and what science can tell
us about decision making when knowledge is incomplete.
This includes consideration of concepts of risk, uncertainty, probability and precaution.
Few if any decisions can be made with absolute certainty of outcome. The consequence of this reality is that some
decisions appear to take too much risk and others not enough, the latter often leading to a sense of inaction. Indeed no
innovation is possible without some level of uncertainty, so an absolute sense of precaution leads to stasis…