European Commission publishes CEP's report on Public perceptions of environmental risks
The European Commission's Environment Directorate-General (DG Environment) has published Survey on public perceptions of environmental risks, a report of research conducted by CEP with partners at the University of A Coruña (Spain), the University of Latvia, Oikos (Slovenia), Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) and the West University of Timisoara (Romania).
This ambitious, Europe-wide project aimed to understand the differences between public perception and scientific assessment of environmental risks and the main factors influencing the evolution of public perceptions in Europe. The project used a mixed methodology research approach, including a survey of experts and focus groups with members of the public.
While the issues of concern to members of the public were generally similar to the top risks identified by experts, in some cases the assessments differed widely. This was the case with waste, which was of concern to public participants but not ranked highly by experts. The focus group discussions showed that while factors such as the proximity and scale of environmental risks do affect the way that lay people perceive these risks, their perceptions are also influenced by collective cultural, institutional and socio-political factors, including social values and the degree of trust in authorities. It was also clear that across Europe lay people are using multiple sources of information to develop their understanding of what are often complex environmental issues.
The full report can be downloaded here.