Ecosystem Services (ES) are the benefits people get from nature. They are the flows from natural capital stocks, where natural capital includes ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, minerals, the air and oceans. Identifying which specific services need to be protected at landscape or larger scales can inform management decisions. Combining an understanding of which habitats and organisms are important in providing ES with an assessment of how these can be exposed to chemicals enables an assessment of the potential impact that chemicals may have on key ecological protection goals. However, the science required to implement such an approach needs further development.
Nevertheless, the ES concept is becoming incorporated into government policy, for example, the European Commission has adopted an ambitious new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ES in the EU by 2020 (1). This has already led to initiatives to incorporate the concept into chemical assessment and management, e.g. EFSA framework for pesticides (2, 3). In broader terms, improving ecological relevance in chemical risk assessment, e.g. via application of ecological thinking, has been identified a key need by the EU scientific committees (4).
An ECETOC task force on the role of ES in targeting the risk assessment of chemicals was initiated in 2013 and is currently assessing how the EFSA framework might be applied to a broad range of chemical types and exposure scenarios (5). The task force has begun to identify further research needed for a framework to be broadly applicable to chemicals in general and is expected to conclude before the end of 2014. It would be appropriate to consider this information in the approach proposed to address this RfP.
To facilitate engagement of the chemical industry, academia and regulators to help develop and evaluate the ES approach in guiding risk assessment schemes for any type of xenobiotic chemical.
- A multidisciplinary team with expertise in chemical risk assessment and ecology.
- Assessment of how current risk assessment methods, including testing and modelling, could be modified to assess impacts on ecosystem service-providing organisms/functions.
- Identification of development needs and how they may be addressed.
- Iteration of ideas from the project team with regulators and industry through development of white papers and focused workshops, e.g. a first workshop to develop initial views and concerns, a second to discuss solutions and a third to disseminate outcomes.
- Interaction with key regulatory agencies including ECHA, EFSA, DG Enterprise.
Download here the full version of hte RfP LRI-ECO27.