The Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle urges action in the best interests of children based on the information available at a given point in time. With regard to environmental issues, waiting for absolute and conclusive research can potentially put a generation of children at unnecessary risk.1

The Precautionary Principle:
When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.2

Key Elements:2
• Taking anticipatory action in the face of scientific uncertainty
• Exploring alternatives to possibly harmful actions
• Placing the burden of proof on proponents of an activity rather than on the victims or potential victims of the activity; and
• Using democratic processes to carry out and enforce the Principle, including the public right to informed consent.

1Canadian Institute of Child Health. The Health of Canada’s Children and Youth: A CICH Profile. Guiding Principles.– accessed March 12th, 2017; The Health of Canada’s Children:  A CICH Profile, Third edition, 2000. Canadian Institute of Child Health:  p. 255.  

2Raffensperger, C. 1999. Protecting Public Health and the Environment – Implementing the Precautionary Principle.