April 28, 2022 at 15:00

Prospects of the precautionary principle in circular economy and chemicals policy in the EU

The precautionary principle is described as one of the cornerstones of EU chemical regulation, but its actual application in individual pieces of legislation remains unclear. Recently, calls for the examination of possibilities for improving the application of the precautionary principle, in particular with respect to its influence on responsible innovation, have become stronger. This requires taking an approach beyond the formal inclusion of the precautionary principle in EU policies or regulations. Because the precautionary principle is strongly linked to scientific uncertainty and controversy, it cannot provide a predetermined solution but should guide the decision-makers to determine the best course of action in each situation.

This webinar provides examples of the application (or lack of it) of the precautionary principle in the EU chemicals and waste legislation and explores the prospects of its use in risk governance at the science-policy interface.  Steffen Foss Hansen will present results from an assessment of the REACH regulation, Mirella Miettinen will address the matter from the perspective of a circular economy, and Jeroen P. van der Sluijs will present the Guidance on the application of the precautionary principle in the EU, developed by the RECIPES research project (read more here).

About the participants


Asst. Prof. Marlene Ågerstrand

Dr Marlene Ågerstrand’s research focuses on understanding the science-policy interactions in risk assessment and management of chemicals. Aspects of interest include the evaluation of data for use in decision-making, the efficiency of management options, and the role of experts in decision-making.

Together with colleagues at Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet, she has developed the webtool SciRAP (www.scirap.org) which provides methods for the evaluation of toxicity and ecotoxicity studies for use in hazard and risk assessment of chemicals. Ågerstrand is a board member of IPCP (www.ipcp.ch). Twitter: @m_agerstrand

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Steffen Foss Hansen

Steffen Foss Hansen is an associate professor in regulatory engineering at Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark. He has a master’s degree in Technological and Socio-Economic Planning (Roskilde University, 2005), a PhD in Regulation of Nanomaterials (DTU, 2009), and a Dr. tech. (DTU, 2018).

He conducts research into risk analysis and governance of nanotechnologies and materials, and the applicability of decision-making tools under scientific uncertainty.

Dr. Hansen is an international recognized expert in regulation of emerging technologies and materials and has been a member of several expert groups giving advice to e.g., ECHA, EEA, OECD, the WHO and national EPAs and is on the advisory panel of the Nature Nanotechnology in matters of nanotechnology and society.

He is also associate editor of the scientific journal, NanoImpact and a grant assessor of NANO2021 Innovation projects on advanced materials for the Norwegian Research Council.

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Mirella Miettinen

Mirella Miettinen is a senior researcher at the Law School and the Center for Climate Change, Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Eastern Finland. Her background is in natural sciences (PhD on aerosol synthesis, characteristics and safety aspects of engineered nanomaterials from the University of Eastern Finland, 2014) and her second PhD (environmental law) on regulating uncertainty in risk governance of nanomaterials and pharmaceutical pollutants is in press. She has also the title of docent (environmental impacts of pharmaceutical industry, 2020) at the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Recently, her research has focused on chemicals legislation and governance of chemicals of emerging policy concern; circular economy; green and sustainable public procurement; and science-law-society interfaces related to these topics. Currently, she is a work package leader of the Academy of Finland Strategic Research Council project Sustainable Drug Discovery and Development with End-of-Life Yield (SUDDEN). Dr Miettinen is a member of the Society for Risk Analysis, as well as working groups of the U.S.–EU Nanotechnology Communities of Research. Twitter: @MirellaMiett

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Jeroen P. van der Sluijs

My research seeks to increase our understanding of the phenomenon and dynamics of scientific controversy on contemporary old, new and emerging environmental and health risks.

My work on the conceptualization of uncertainty in science for policy and on reflective approaches to the assessment of (model) quality is internationally recognized. It has significantly advanced understanding of deep uncertainty in scientific assessment of issues such as climate change and risks of new and emerging technologies. It has inspired and enabled many scholars and science–policy interface institutions around the world to develop new ways of interfacing complex science and policymaking. Among them are Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA) [lead author of ch.5 of the 2019 Making Sense of Science report]; the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency [lead author of their uncertainty guidance] and the European Environment Agency [invited chapter author of 2013 Late Lessons from Early Warnings II report].

In addition to my position as professor at the Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities (SVT) at UiB, I am guest researcher at Utrecht University, The Netherlands and visiting professor at Coöperatieve Universiteit Amersfoort (a citizen science initiative).