Precautionary Approach

Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992, states that:

“In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

In the preamble of the Convention on Biological Diversity it is noted that:

“Where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat.”

Decision II/10 on conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity, adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its second meeting in Jakarta in November 1995, states that:

“The work [of the Secretariat on marine and coastal biological diversity] should not be impeded by the lack of full scientific information and will incorporate explicitly the precautionary approach in addressing conservation and sustainable use issues.”

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme