The Federation Press

Perspectives on the Precautionary Principle


Perspectives offers the Australian experience in environmental management, influenced by challenges arising from an economy which is strongly natural resource based, operating in ecosystems which are acknowledged as both sensitive and unique and which rank Australia as the only developed nation among the 12 ’mega-diverse’ (in terms of biodiversity) regions of the world.

Whilst covering a range of disciplinary and management perspectives, Perspectives is especially strong in the legal, science and risk-uncertainty areas. It will be of interest to academics, and tertiary level students from a wide range of disciplines - law, science, economics, engineering, social science and policy and political science.


“Perspectives on the Precautionary Principle sets out to both explain and to assess precaution as one of the dominant statements of general principle now applicable by statute in most planning and environment jurisdictions. Though I would have liked to have seen a thorough analysis of what I consider to be the essential role of the corporate and financial sectors and the potential of free market mechanisms rather than the traditional reliance on ’big government’, the book succeeds exceptionally well. It will appeal to lawyers struggling with to come to terms with statements of general principle, to planners, to many working in disparate areas of social science and increasingly, I believe, to economists and accountants who will have to rather quickly come to terms with this principle at a corporate policy and strategic planning level. Federation Press and the editors are to be congratulated for this excellent and comprehensive work. It provides the first integrated approach to this important principle and should form part of the libraries of all the groups mentioned above.” - International Trade & Business Journal

Table of Contents

Part One - Introduction

Introducing the precautionary principle
Ronnie Harding and Elizabeth Fisher

Part Two - The legal status of the precautionary principle

The precautionary principle: Core meaning, constitutional framework and procedures for implementation
James Cameron
Will the precautionary principle affect environmental decision-making and impact assessment?
JF Whitehouse
An industry perspective on the precautionary principle
J Segal
The precautionary principle as a legal standard for public decision-making: The role of judicial and merits review in ensuring reasoned deliberation
Elizabeth C Fisher
Factoring biodiversity conservation into decision-making processes: The role of the precautionary principle
David Farrier

Part Three - Application of precaution through economics

The precautionary principle as a key element of ecologically sustainable development
MD Young
Economic concepts and the precautionary principle and implementation of safe minimum standards
David James

Part Four - Uncertainty, risk and precaution: exploring the links

Ignorance, sustainability and the precautionary principle: Towards an analytical framework
Stephen R Dovers and John W Handmer
Risk management, reality and the precautionary principle: Coping with decisions
Gavan McDonell

Part Five - Toxics, industry and precaution: What role for science?

Is “cleaner production” the answer to the precautionary principle?
Brian Robinson
The precautionary principle, science and policy
Malcolm MacGarvin
Chemical assessment and the precautionary principle
Warwick Pearse and Harley Wright
Precautionary principles require changes in thinking about and planning environmental sampling
AJ Underwood

Part Six - Precaution, the community and the future

Top down, ground up or inside out? Community practice and the precautionary principle
Valerie A Brown
The politics of the precautionary principle
Tim O’Riordan
The precautionary principle: Towards a deliberative, trans-disciplinary problem-solving process
Elizabeth Fisher and Ronnie Harding

Statements of the precautionary principle

Of interest...