Following the precautionary principle and approaching the unknown risks of new technologies with care is necessary for sustainable development. The precautionary principle suggests that we should proceed with caution when we do not know all of the risks. There are always unknowns with any new technological development that may cause unintended damage. Principle 15 of the United Nations' Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992 states: “[W]here there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” This approach was discussed in relation to wind power as part of international law and the common law in Hanna v. Attorney General for Ontario, 2010 ONSC 4058 (CanLII). Technolegal development should be informed development. This leads to the creation of laws that reasonably prevent harm from occurring while permitting the growth of new technologies.
Matthew J. Van Den Hooven
Matthew is a lawyer based in Nanaimo, B.C. Please note that the accuracy of the information in this blog is not guaranteed and that the law does change. It is not a replacement for independent legal advice. Contact Matthew to arrange for an appointment today.