International Risk Governance Council

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International Risk Governance Council
Founded Geneva, Switzerland (2003)
Type Nonprofit organization
Focus Risk governance
Headquarters Lausanne, Switzerland
Region served
Key people
Philippe Gillet (Chairman)
Marie-Valentine Florin (Managing Director)

The International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. IRGC describes itself as an independent and neutral organisation whose purpose is to help improve the understanding and management of potentially global risks that have impacts on human health and safety, the environment, the economy and society at large.[1]

IRGC is best known for its Risk Governance Framework, continuously adapted and applied to various risk-related areas, such as unconventional gas development, energy efficiency or synthetic biology. IRGC also holds regular expert workshops and an annual international conference, convening policy makers, scientist and representatives from industry and civil society.


IRGC’s mission includes developing concepts of risk governance, anticipating major risk issues, and providing risk governance policy advice for key decision makers. To ensure the objectivity of its governance recommendations, IRGC draws upon international scientific knowledge and expertise from both the public and private sectors in order to develop fact-based risk governance recommendations for policy makers.

IRGC operates as an independent think tank with multidisciplinary expertise and can help bridge the gaps between science, technological development, policy makers and the public. IRGC acts as a catalyst for improvements in the design and implementation of risk governance strategies that can be effective in today’s challenging governance environment.

Specific areas of activity include ignored, neglected and emerging risk issues, slow-developing catastrophic risks, risks and opportunities associated with energy transition, and the fostering of risk governance cultures worldwide.

In particular, IRGC:

  • Organises invitation-only expert workshop on specific risk issues
  • Holds an annual international conference on a relevant topic in contemporary risk governance
  • Publishes freely available, peer-reviewed reports and policy briefs including policy recommendations on topical risk issues


IRGC’s highest governance body is the Foundation Board (list of current members), chaired by Philippe Gillet. The Scientific & Technical Council (list of current members) is the leading scientific authority, providing quality assurance and scientific input to the work program. It is chaired by Prof. Granger Morgan.

IRGC states to aim at reaching a global community of public and private policy makers while simultaneously ensuring a strong local, contextual and cultural rooting. In order to achieve this aim, IRGC adopted a decentralised structure and facilitates a network of academic and scientific institutions active in the field of risk governance.[2] Network members share and exchange knowledge in the field of risk governance, collaborate in education, communication and outreach to decision makers and develop specific risk governance policy options and recommendations based on substantive analysis.

As a not-for-profit organisation, IRGC is funded by entirely by its network members and grant-making institutions, both private and public.[3]


Over heightened levels of public concern about the management of risks in the late 1990s due to the cumulative impact of several crises and natural disasters, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research recommended to the Swiss Parliament in 2003 that the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) be established[4] as an independent and international body to bridge increasing gaps between science, technological development, decision-makers and the public. In June 2003, IRGC was formally founded in Geneva as a private foundation under Article 80ff of the Swiss Civil Code.[5] In order to strengthen collaboration with academia, to expand its academic network and to further develop its science-based approach by closely working together with scientific experts, the IRGC secretariat moved its offices from Geneva to the campus of the École Polytechnique Fédérale (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 2012. In July 2012, IRGC was granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)[6] and in July 2014, became a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).[7]


  1. ^ About IRGC. International Risk Governance Council. Retrieved 06 August 2014.
  2. ^ Network. International Risk Governance Council. Retrieved 06 August 2014.
  3. ^ Organisation & Funding. International Risk Governance Council. Retrieved 06 August 2014.
  4. ^ Botschaft über die Förderung von Bildung, Forschung und Technologie in den Jahren 2004–2007. Federal Gazette (2003). Retrieved 06 August 2014.
  5. ^ Stiftungsverzeichnis. Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern. Retrieved 06 August 2014.
  6. ^ List of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council as of 1 September 2013. United Nations Economic and Social Council. Retrieved 06 August 2014.
  7. ^ SDSN Welcomes New Members. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Retrieved 06 August 2014.

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