The Universal Precautionary Principle: New Pillars and Pathways for Environmental, Sociocultural, and Economic Resilience
Akins, Ashli; Lyver, Phil O'B; Alroe, Hugo; Moller, Henrik
Global environmental degradation is linked to a worldwide erosion of ethnic identity and cultural diversity, as well as market disruption. Cultures rely heavily on the local environment around them, and local communities play a key role in conserving natural resources. People’s identity, connection with land, and the adaptation of Indigenous and local knowledge are prerequisites for resilience. Though the Environmental Precautionary Principle (EPP) aims to tackle environmental degradation by privileging the environment in the face of uncertainty, it is not sufficient on its own; it does not take into account the intimate connection between nature and local culture, nor does it prioritize community or cultural wellbeing. We suggest expanding this concept into a multi-faceted Universal Precautionary Principle (UPP), which recognizes people’s connection to the land, and elevates community, cultural, and economic wellbeing as equally important values alongside environmental concerns. Here, we coin the Universal Precautionary Principle, outline its four core pillars—systems, governance, diversity, and resilience—and introduce its three subsets: Environmental Precautionary Principle, Sociocultural Precautionary Principle, and Economic Precautionary Principle. We discuss potential outcomes of its application, and offer operational guidelines to implement the Universal Precautionary Principle in practice, before concluding that it is a crucial tool to build environmental, sociocultural, and economic resilience. In essence, reciprocity is the keystone for continuance—if the environment is healthy, people are more likely to be healthy. Equally, if people are healthy, the environment is more likely to be healthy; for both people and the environment to be healthy, their culture and economy must be healthy.
Keywords: cultural; diversity; environmental; governance; precautionary principle; resilience; sociocultural; socio-ecological systems; sustainability; systems; transformative resilience
Research Type: Journal Article
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