The precautionary principle, or precautionary approach, is now widely accepted in environmental law and policy at international and, increasingly, national level. However, the principle remains highly controversial, its meaning contested, its acceptance and implementation inconsistent across sectors and contexts and its impacts unclear. This paper aims to inform and assist IUCN and its members in developing greater shared understanding of the meaning and implementation of the principle in the context of biodiversity conservation and natural resource management, respecting priorities of both conservation and sustainable development. It examines the meaning of the precautionary principle and its incorporation into biodiversity and resource management law and policy, and discusses a series of issues raised by its implementation in this sector for biodiversity conservation and for livelihoods and poverty alleviation.
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