Flag Drapo-fr
Home Who are we ? Our Actions Sponsoring
Conference Program
Benchmark independent scientific analysis in major environmental and health crisis, March 2017, Geneva Management of Waste Generated at Sea, November 2008, Marseille
Anotated Agenda
  Logo_WE2C Logo_Webster_University  
   Issues, challenges and responses  
   Geneva, (23-24 March 2017)  
  THURSDAY 23 MARCH 2017  

09:00 Welcome


10:00 Opening Session


Pr. Oreste Foppiani, Head of the Department of International Relations – Webster University Geneva


10:10 Introductory remarks


Pierre Portas, President of WE2C, Former deputy Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention


Interpretations of scientific analysis are promoted by many different actors such as politicians, NGOs, social networks or businesses via a multitude of vectors on the Internet. Some of these vectors may shift the subject of discussion according to particular interests, needs or a specific agenda. Subjective interpretation might override scientific facts.


10:30 Round table: Feedback of experiences (from the Probo Koala case)


This story reveals many divergences. Why? Because the actors involved failed to employ a benchmark scientific analysis method acceptable to all in forming their own opinion or judgement. Each stakeholder selected the scientific analysis that best suited its interests. Ten years later, it is not possible to identify the benchmark independent scientific analysis that could have been used by all concerned. Nor is it possible to assess the real impact of this incident on the local population. What happened then?


• 20-minute presentations by the speakers




Pierre Portas (moderator)


Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health – WHO


Denis Bard, Professor epidemiology and risks assessment – EHESP (France)


Joost van Rooij, Toxicologist, industrial hygienist – Caesar Consult (Netherlands)


11:30 Break


11:45 Round table continuation


13:00 Lunch


14:00 Session A : Ethical and legal criteria or parameters of benchmark independent scientific analysis


Introductory remarks by the moderator (15 minutes). Two case study are considered. Module 1 will address the issue of the feasibility of independent scientific analysis having in mind the Probo Koala case. Module 2 will address the cholera outbreak in Haiti.


Francisco Rubio, Adjunct professor at Webster University (Geneva), member of the Steering Committee of Médecins du Monde Switzerland


Module 1 : The case of the Probo Koala incident raises a fundamental question. Is it possible to initiate and produce a benchmark independent scientific analysis when a major environmental crisis and human health occur? In the age of Internet, can such an analysis be carried out in the presence of a wide variety of actors whose global reach exposes them to media coverage that could well interfere with the making of the scientific analysis and distort its conclusions? What do we need to make it work?


• 20-minute presentations by the speakers


• Discussion




Karine Favro, Professor in public law – Université de Haute-Alsace


Juliette Kohler, Policy and legal advisor – United Nations Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat


Patrick Ramaël, Magistrate, President of chamber – Court of Appeal of Aix en Provence


Module 2 : Although legal framework and procedures are in place at the national or domestic level to conduct scientific analysis, such framework is lacking at the international level. Scientific analysis carried out abroad could, consequently, be more easily subject to political influence and opportunism or to vested economic interest, which might not be conducive to the rapid and effective resolution of crisis. The 2010 epidemic of cholera in Haiti, causing the death of thousands of people, witness the distortion of scientific work, evidence and facts.


• 30/40-minute presentation


• Discussion




Renaud Piarroux, Professor and head of service, parasitology and mycology – Hôpital de la Timone (France)


16:00 Break


16:15 Session B : Possibility of benchmark independent scientific analysis in the context of globalization, media coverage and mass communication


The influence of media globalization must be matched by strategies designed to convey and underpin the accuracy and veracity of the facts. It becomes difficult to trust information conveyed by public or private vectors whose motivation or business models may distort, transform or ignore information because of vested interests. The common good requires the introduction of strategies to challenge communication dominant feature and to promote the accuracy or reality of information. Who could help and how?


• 20-minute presentations by the speakers


• Discussion




Venance Konan Journalist, Director of Groupe Fraternité Matin (Ivory Coast)


Dietram Scheufele, Professor, life science communication – University of Wisconsin


18:30 Adjournment

  FRIDAY 24 MARCH 2017  

09:30 Round table: Initial conditions for independent benchmark scientific analysis


It is important to clarify the scope of an independent scientific analysis. The way the scientific analysis is being established will determine the entire process. The initial conditions of the analysis are therefore primordial. From these initial conditions, emerge the process of realization of the analysis, its use and reporting of results. Could such initial conditions be explore and identified?




Karine Favro


Venance Konan


Renaud Piarroux


Patrick Ramaël


Francisco Rubio


Dietram Scheufele


10:30 Break


10:45 Round table continuation


12:30 Responses and the search for solutions


• Remarks by Pierre Portas followed by an exchange of views, suggestions and any proposal for follow up


12:30 Closing of the meeting


Pr. Oreste Foppiani