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2nd OPERA Expert Meeting on Risk Indicators
April 8, 2010
Across the EU, Member States are now committed to implement strategies to transpose and fulfil the objectives of the Sustainable Use Directive as part of the European Pesticides Package. As part of this process, Member States will have to select adequate and appropriate Risk Indicators that can identify the impact of strategies and identify those options that will deliver the greatest benefit.
OPERA has been tasked with preparing a review of existing Risk Indicators, and to pose potential options that may prove of value to Member States in selecting both the indicators and the strategies to meet their objectives.
The key challenges will be to focus on the most appropriate mitigation strategies that will deliver the greatest benefit, along with selecting the Risk Indicator measures that can quickly and clearly identify which tools are working most effectively, and are best capable of achieving the desired effects for each individual Member State.
Most current Risk Indicators are designed to measure change at the final point, such as identifying any possible pesticide residue in water courses, for example. Such indicators are typically not sufficiently refined to identify the success of any mitigating measures implemented at a farm level.
Furthermore, these current physical Risk Indicators do not take into account other aspects of sustainability. This includes the social aspect of providing resources for the wider community and the vital economic element that can ensure rural communities remain viable. Implementing strategies that achieve the Sustainable Use Directive, but that come at an unacceptable cost to the rural communities, the social fabric and the environment may prove counterproductive.
The Risk Indicators are only a part of a tool that delivers the risk reduction. Furthermore it is not always – or maybe never – a single indicator to show the reduction. A systematic comparison to the base line may be required to show over time the efficacy, the trend and the efficiency of the adopted measures.
Utilising Risk Indicators that are sympathetic to the wider aspects of sustainability and that can measure the overall success of mitigation strategies more effectively will be crucial to the widespread adoption and implementation of such strategies.