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The Precautionary Principle, Knowledge Uncertainty, and Environmental Assessment
Posted by Jeroen on Tuesday, October 29 2002 @ 19:36:37 CET
News and announcements A new paper by dr Arthur Petersen has been posted to the nusap.net: The Precautionary Principle, Knowledge Uncertainty, and Environmental Assessment.

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For an overview of all reports and papers available from nusap.net, click here.

It was only recently, about fifteen years ago, that the “precautionary principle” rose to international prominence in environmental policy making. Loosely formulated, the principle states that if there is an indication that a certain activity may be harmful to humans or the environment, that activity should be abandoned. The principle provides politicians with the possibility to install measures even when uncertainty still exists about a problem. In this paper I will take a closer look into the way the precautionary principle is supposed to deal with knowledge uncertainty. The background argument of this paper is that the current pace of innovation requires institutional shifts towards reflective governance under scientific uncertainty. There is especially a need for independent “knowledge-and-uncertainty brokers” that can assist societies in applying the precautionary principle in a balanced manner. To lay the groundwork for my argument, I first address some general issues in science for policy. Subsequently, I discuss some examples of science for policy from the area of environmental assessment. The paper continues with a concise discussion on knowledge uncertainty. Finally, the precautionary principle is analyzed in the context of the issues introduced earlier.
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