Implementing the Precautionary Principle
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Implementing the Precautionary Principle

Perspectives and Prospects

Edited by Elizabeth Fisher, Judith Jones and René von Schomberg

This challenging book takes a broad and thought-provoking look at the precautionary principle and its implementation, or potential implementation, in a number of fields. In particular, it explores the challenges faced by public decision-making processes when applying the precautionary principle, including its role in risk management and risk assessment. Frameworks for improved decision-making are considered, followed by a detailed analysis of prospective applications of the precautionary principle in a number of emerging fields including: nanotechnology, climate change, natural resource management and public health policy. The analysis is both coherent and interdisciplinary, employing perspectives from law, the social sciences and public policy with a view to improving both the legitimacy and effectiveness of public policy at national and international levels.
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Chapter 1: Implementing the Precautionary Principle: Perspectives and Prospects

Elizabeth Fisher, Judith Jones and René von Schomberg


Elizabeth Fisher, Judith Jones and René von Schomberg In the last two decades the precautionary principle has become an established feature of environmental, public health and other risk regulation regimes in many different jurisdictions. It has been included in policy and law and given rise to a diverse body of decision-making practices (de Sadeleer 2002, Trouwborst 2002). The literature on the precautionary principle has grown exponentially alongside these developments. That scholarship and commentary is a rich and wide-ranging one and has included: general discussions of the principle (Freestone and Hey 1996, Harding and Fisher 1999, O’Riordan et al. 2001, Raffensperger and Tickner 1999); discussions about the legitimacy of the principle from a range of different disciplinary perspectives (Cross 1996, Morris 2000, Segal 1999, Treich 2001); reviews of its inclusion in law and policy (Christoforou 2002, de Sadeleer 2002, Scott and Vos 2002, Trouwborst 2002); discussions of its applications in specific circumstances (Gullett 2000, Gullett et al. 2001, Levidow 2001, Vos 2004, Walker 2003); and examinations of its implications for regulatory policy (Harremoës et al. 2002, Klinke and Renn 2002, Marchant and Mossman 2004, Stirling 2001, Wiener and Rogers 2002). While the literature on the principle is a large one, the challenges involved in its actual and potential application have tended to be underestimated. In particular, the messy business of integrating the principle into existing institutions and relating it to well-established decision-making processes has not received the attention it should have. Rather, the principle has tended...

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