Who We Are

IRR and NERAM are located at the University of Waterloo and were founded in 1981 & 1995 respectively. They are networks of expertise in risk management for the environment (NERAM) and risk in general (IRR).

Both networks are funded by partners in industry and government as well as from research contracts, and sale of publications. All work done is peer reviewed and published to ensure that all activities are fully independent and of the highest quality. According to opportunities for support the two networks sponsor conferences, workshops and in-house research. Please contact us for more information or to access the substantial expertise that exists in the network.

John Shortreed, Ph.D., PEO(ON)
Executive Director, IRR and NERAM


IRR Members
NERAM Members
NERAM Partners




The New Regulatory Reality

In Canada, we are seeing the emergence of a new regulatory regime in which responsibility for assessment of hazardous substances is being devolved from government to industry and there is increasing reliance on voluntary approaches and a resulting need for acceptable regulatory standards.

This paradigm shift presents significant opportunity for industry but also highlights the need to improve both the scientific basis of risk assessment and its systematic integration into risk management decision-making and risk communication with the public and other stakeholders.

The Network for Environmental Risk Assessment and Management (NERAM) will integrate the scientific knowledge and expertise that exists across many diverse disciplines in Canada to provide a comprehensive approach to environmental risk assessment and risk management that supports more effective and efficient environmental protection practices and decision-making.

NERAM partners from industry and government have said that the Network will help them deal with issues such as:

  • today's climate of deregulation, public sector downsizing, and devolution of responsibility for environmental risk assessment and management from federal to lower levels of government and industry is intensifying the need for a multi-sectoral network
  • need for more effective and efficient environmental protection practices and decision-making
  • complexity of the research is too broad for any one centre
  • need for consistency/agreement on Risk Assessment methodologies
  • need for more consistent and credible message in communicating about environmental risk



The goal of the Network for Environmental Risk Assessment and Management is to integrate the scientific knowledge and expertise that exists across many diverse disciplines which contribute to environmental protection in Canada.

The Network's principal objectives are:

  • to develop risk-based methodologies, standards and tools based on scientific models of environmental risk assessment. NERAM will focus on methodologies that are practical and evidence-based.
  • to establish an integrated scientific framework for theoretical and practical principles of integrated environmental risk assessment and management, based on actual risk management decisions.
  • to disseminate methods, research results and experiences with environmental risk assessment.
  • to provide significant postgraduate education and training of scientific personnel in the integrated methodologies of environmental risk assessment and management.
  • to be a coordinated, Canada-wide resource for independent, credible and multi-disciplinary scientific advice on environmental risk assessment and management.



At meetings of the Network in August and October of 1997, a critical mass of partners was achieved and the broad outlines of the Network and its operations formulated. The Node Directors and the initial partners established the following Guiding Principles:

  1. NERAM research programs will endeavor to address the needs of a significant majority Partners in the Network and must be done by world class researchers. All research activities must be peer reviewed both during and at the completion of the research.
  2. The Network will work to include all stakeholders involved in the Protection of the Environment and the Assessment and Management of that protection. Thus, the following groups must be included: Industry, Government, Universities, Consultants, and non-government organizations (NGOs) as representatives of sources of special knowledge, special interest groups and the Public.
  3. The Network will continually focus on the training and development of experts in Environmental Risk Assessment. Tools and techniques for helping Canada's industries assess and protect the environment are useless without adequately trained people to do the work. To achieve the overall goal of the Network, of better Environmental Protection, it is essential that there be both good deliverables and well trained people.
  4. Network activities must be interdisciplinary and must also reflect the diverse characteristics of Canada. To be practical and credible NERAM deliverables must reflect both the diversity of Canada and the diversity of research approaches and knowledge of different disciplines.
  5. The Network will seek to develop a scientific framework for Environmental Risk Assessment that incorporates both theoretical and scientific principles as well as practical realities of the environment and ecosystems. This framework will guide the development of methods, tools and individual assessments.
  6. The Network is a long term venture that incorporates short term research projects. While individual research and programs are of limited duration, the Network will be structured to have the continuity that is required to develop and maintain the Network connections and working relationships necessary to continually advance Environmental Risk Assessment and Management.




John Shortreed 519-885-4027 irr-neram@uwaterloo.ca
Last Updated: January 13, 2009
© IRR-NERAM 2003