Precautionary principle

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Definition of Precautionary Principle:
The principle of avoiding possible environmental damage when the scientific evidence for acting is inconclusive but the potential damage could be great[1].
This is the common definition for Precautionary Principle, other definitions can be discussed in the article

Related definitions

  • Approach to risk management that can be applied in circumstances of scientific uncertainty, reflecting a perceived need to take action in the face of a potentially serious risk without waiting for definitive results of scientific research.
  • A principle which states that lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental damage to habitats or species when there is a threat of serious or irreversible environmental degradation.


The Maastricht Treaty adopted the Precautionary Principle as a fundamental element of environmental policy. (Article III-233 of the draft Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe.)