A commentary in this week's issue of THE LANCET is calling for the creation of a new organisation to measure and prioritise all major global threats to human survival.
As world leaders backed the proposal for an earthquake early warning system for the Indian Ocean in Jakarta last week, a unique opportunity to create a broader mechanism to determine human risks has arisen.
Gaining a total picture of the risks facing populations, be that economic, geopolitical, societal or environmental, will allow governments to formulate domestic and foreign policies. But there is currently no existing institution that can deliver this approach.
The UN has no single technical agency devoted to global risk assessment. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G8, and World Trade Organisation are all inappropriate repositories for impartial analysis of global threats.
Independent foundations may offer more neutral forums for risk judgments but would still identify challenges from their own particular perspectives, producing solutions biased by their own specific ideologies.
Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, comments: "The power of independent technical evidence is consistently undervalued. What is needed is a World Institute for Risk Evaluation-- WIRE. This new institute would be an independent research-based agency, mandated to assess and adjudicate global risks. Evidence would be systematically gathered and peer-reviewed, risks would be quantified and prioritised, and issues would be targeted prospectively rather than responded to retrospectively. WIRE's work would take place in open forums. Its advisers would represent a wide range of disciplines."
"WIRE would not--it could not--make judgments about the economic benefits, political feasibility, or public acceptability of risk reduction strategies. WI
Contact: Joe Santangelo