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2. Problem formulation

This phase is essential to specify the risk-benefit problem that will be investigated. It sets the scope of the assessment, and should be defined by consultation with the risk managers or policy-makers for whom the assessment is intended. It is recommended to write the risk-benefit question in words, to help the parties involved to define it more clearly and identify the relevant scenarios (Hoekstra et al., submitted). It is also good practice to record the context or background of the risk-benefit question and the reasons why it is asked, to ensure all the involved parties have a common understanding of the problem.

As more information becomes available during the assessment, the risk-benefit question may need to be reformulated. Problem formulation can therefore be an iterative process. At each tier in the process, consultation with the risk manager/policymaker is encouraged to ensure the relevance of the risk benefit question that is being answered.

A detailed discussion of problem formulation for risk-benefit assessment is provided in the BRAFO approach (Hoekstra et al., submitted). The key elements are as follows.