Can we develop a standard agreement for ethics impact assessment of R&I? Join us to find out!

It has been a busy summer for the SATORI project. Following a year and a half with intense study of global ethics assessment practices, we could finally publish the results of our hard work on the website: 1 main report and 47 annexes, all detailing ethics impact assessment and ethics guidance practices, across the globe (Europe, the US and China), and across a wealth of professional groups (from industry to university and CSOs).

The second phase of the SATORI project will be initiated in September with the first in a number of workshops for the development of a CEN/CWA agreement for ethics impact assessment of R&I.

We caught up with Marlou Bijlsma of the Netherlands Standardization Institute, to hear more about the process.

First of all Marlou, can you tell us: “What is a CEN and what is a CEN workshop?”

“Yes, well the CEN and its network of national standardization bodies make standards and standard documents on a wide variety of issues. The CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) is the ‘lightest’ standard document. The procedures to make a CWA are relatively fast and easy compared to the procedures to make a European Standard, which requires voting procedures. In a later stage a CWA can be further developed into a European or International (ISO) standard.”

What is the motivation for the SATORI project to develop a CWA?

“SATORI has done an enormous job to make an inventory of ethics assessments values, principles, approaches and practices. Based on the analysis of these results the SATORI project aims to provide an ethics assessment framework for research and innovation. First ideas from SATORI partners will be shared with interested parties to create European level support for its work and allow outsiders to contribute. The CEN Workshop is the tool for this.”

Can you tell us also what a CWA can be used for and by whom?

“The CWA on ethics assessment provides a framework for ethics assessment. The framework is envisaged to stimulate existing ethics assessment to improve on current practices. The framework will provide toolboxes with ‘best practices’ of different ethics assessment practices. Ethics impact assessment is a challenging component of the framework and the toolbox. The ethics assessment framework could be used by researchers, research departments and innovative product developers to improve the ethic aspects of the research or innovation. The framework could be used the EC, policy makers or funding agencies to assess whether ethical criteria are met.”

That sounds interesting, how will this workshop be organized, can anyone provide input for the SATORI CWA?

“The Kick off meeting on is the 17th of September 2015. It is the first of three plenary meetings to develop the CWA ethical impact assessment. The final document will be produced after the third plenary meeting in early 2017. A project team will work out suggestions from the plenary meetings and prepare draft documents. A public comment phase will solicit comments from a wider audience. Participation is open; interested parties in research, innovation and ethics assessment can participate. Participants can learn from the findings of the SATORI partners, as well as contribute their own experiences and protocols for ethics assessment. This way they can influence the final CEN Workshop Agreement.

Thank you very much Marlou for taking the time to talk to us and help us become a bit wiser about this CEN workshop agreement. One last question:

If I would like to participate, what do I do?

“In that case please, go to this webpage to sign up and receive more information.”

SATORI partners hereby cordially invite all innovators, researchers, funding agencies and assessors to participate in the development of the framework on ethics assessment.

Marlou Bijlsma of the Netherlands Standardization Institute was interviewed by Lise Bitsch at the Danish Board of Technology Foundation