In view of the vulnerability of humans, society and the natural environment, a proactive approach to uncertainties is required. A precautionary approach will create new responsibilities for the government, the private sector and consumers, as well as new activities. In its report Uncertain safety (Report no. 82, 2008), the WRR recommends inserting the new precautionary principle in the Constitution.
Not so much risks as uncertainties
The classical risk approach has limitations as a result of social developments (food safety, new technologies and climate change, for example) and progressive scientific insights. Society is not so much confronted with risks as with uncertainties. These uncertainties have to be addressed in an organised manner.
Proactive approach to uncertainties
A proactive approach to uncertainties can take various forms. For example, by actively conducting research or by designing early-warning systems. An adequate policy on physical safety also requires that the government has access to the relevant knowledge. The independence of science is an essential precondition for this.
The WRR published this advice at the request of the government.