Precaution, Science, and Learning While Doing in Natural Resource Management

32 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2007  

Holly Doremus

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Abstract

Dealing with uncertainty is widely recognized as the key challenge for environmental and natural resource decision-making. Too often, though, that challenge is considered only from an ex ante perspective, treating uncertainty as an invariant feature that must be accounted for but cannot be changed. With respect to many natural resource management decisions, that picture is misleading. Decisions which are iterative or similar can provide significant opportunities for learning. Where such opportunities are available and inaction is not feasible or desirable, learning while doing can provide the benefits of both the precautionary principle and scientific decision-making, while minimizing the key weaknesses of each. After highlighting the benefits of a learning-while-doing approach for natural resource management, this paper briefly addresses how management agencies might be encouraged to adopt such an approach.

Suggested Citation

Doremus, Holly, Precaution, Science, and Learning While Doing in Natural Resource Management. UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 103. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=982203 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.982203

Holly Doremus (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

790 Simon Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-643-5699 (Phone)

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