Task Group 125
Ecosystem Services in Environmental Radiological Protection

A Task Group under Committee 4

Background

Since the publication of the most recent ICRP recommendations in 2007 the pace of change in global socio-economic challenges and environmental degradation has accelerated. We face climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies as well as global health crises such as COVID-19 and increases in non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer. It is important that the system of radiological protection provides for an appropriate level of human and environmental protection overall without unduly limiting desirable human actions and without adversely affecting sustainable development or resulting in unintended consequences. To address these issues, there has been increasing interest in incorporating ecosystem services monitoring and assessment in many contexts related to environmental protection and policy making. Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits humankind derives from the workings of the natural world, i.e., from ecosystems, and are crucial in human life for example by providing nutritious food and clean water; by regulating disease and climate; by supporting crop pollination and soil formation, and by offering recreational, cultural, and spiritual benefits. The assessment of ecosystem services, whether those services are regulating, supporting, provisioning, or cultural, have the potential to support a holistic approach to environmental radiological protection as developed in ICRP Publication 124 (2014).

Mandate

This Task Group (TG) will explore and share knowledge on ecosystem services by providing background and general recommendations on how ecosystem services can support a holistic approach to environmental radiological protection (ERP) and, as specifically relevant to ERP, explore how the system of radiological protection contributes to the delivery of sustainable development. In doing so, the TG will conduct extensive literature review to ensure information provided is based on current socio-economic, environmental, scientific and ethics knowledge. Drawing from previous ICRP publications on ERP (notably Publication 124) and on ethics (Publication 138, 2018), this TG will work collaboratively with other relevant TGs (e.g., TG 98, 99, 105, 114 and others as deemed relevant) to ensure a consistent approach is proposed. The TG will:

  • Define ecosystem services in the context of radiological protection based on currently accepted definitions.
  • Review and describe practical examples in which ecosystem services have been incorporated into decision-making relevant to radiological protection.
  • Explore the link(s) between ERP, promotion of well-being, and sustainable development (e.g., related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Consult with organisations in formal relations with ICRP (notably UNSCEAR, IAEA, NEA) and beyond (notably UNEP and national NGOs) to understand how other similar protection frameworks consider ecosystem services and/or sustainable development.
  • Provide recommendations for if and how ecosystem services (and other environmental management tools or concepts as relevant) should be used to promote a holistic approach in ERP with consideration of sustainable development and practical application, e.g., the relationship to Derived Consideration Reference Levels (DCRLs) or other potential assessment criteria.

Deliverables

The Task Group will develop a report for publication in Annals of the ICRP. This report will provide background information and clear definition of ecosystem services along with a discussion of if and how ecosystem services should be incorporated into a holistic approach to environmental radiological protection, including its relationship to sustainable development.

In addition, the Task Group will develop materials suitable for ICRPædia in collaboration with the Scientific Secretariat.

Nicole Martinez (Chair), Clemson University, USA
Analia Canoba (Vice-Chair), Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear (ARN), Argentina