October 28, 2021 at 15:00

The Precautionary Principle - Dead or Alive?

Trying to find someone who has heard about the precautionary principle is very easy. Much more difficult is finding a consistent definition of what it is, and how it should be implemented. This workshop is aimed at exploring examples of ways in which the precautionary principle has been applied, and discussing the barriers and enablers to a wider application to 21st century challenges.

The Precautionary Principle first reared its head in the 1970s in German environmental law. It made its way onto the international scene in the 1980s, eventually becoming ratified by 178 nations in Principle 15 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. There it was written as:

“Where 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.”

Since this time the principle has been applied in myriad ways in many different domains. After three decades, it will be useful to talk about the state of the principle: Dead or alive?

About the participants


Prof. Kevin Noone

Kevin Noone is a Professor of Chemical Meteorology at the Department of Environmental Science (ACES) at Stockholm University, where he has worked off and on since 1987. He was founding Director of the Swedish Secretariat for Environmental Earth System Sciences (SSEESS) at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 2010-2014 while remaining half time at Stockholm University. From 2004-2008 he was the Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). Prof. Noone’s background is in Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Oceanography, Meteorology, and Atmospheric Physics. 

After receiving his PhD degree from the University of Washington, he has been on the faculty at both Stockholm University in Sweden and the University of Rhode Island in the U.S. His current research interests are in the areas of Earth System Science and global sustainability, atmospheric chemistry & physics, and the effects of aerosols and clouds on air quality and the Earth’s climate. He is also active with outreach activities, trying to narrow the gap between science and society.

Keynote Speaker

Joakim Zander, PhD

Joakim Zander is a Swedish author and lawyer and he holds a PhD in Law from Maastricht University. Before becoming a full time author he worked as a lawyer for several EU institutions in Brussels, as well as for the European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki. His PhD thesis The Application of the Precautionary Principle in Practice won the Rabobank Award and was published by Cambridge University Press. During the pandemic he has written regularly about risk and precaution for Swedish newspapers.

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Christina Rudén

Christina Rudén is Professor in Regulatory toxicology and ecotoxicology at the Department of environmental science, Stockholm University, Sweden.

Her research focuses on analyzing and evaluating the foundations and workings of EU chemicals legislation, and how science is used for regulatory decision-making. The overall purpose is to contribute to developing scientifically well-motivated improvements of the legal system and its practices. Professor Rudén has published some 75 articles about regulatory toxicology in international peer reviewed journals.

She is a member of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s Supervisory Council. She is representing SU as an observer in the CARACAL (Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP) and she is a member of the European Commission’s High-Level Roundtable Expert group on the implementation of the Chemical Strategy for Sustainbility. Professor Rudén has been a member of ECHA’s Management Board (nominated by the European Parliament) and she has served as an expert for the Swedish Government on the issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment, and as a special inquirer for mixture risk assessment and grouping of chemicals.

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Ragnar Löfstedt

Professor Ragnar E. Löfstedt is Professor of Risk Management and the Director of King’s Centre for Risk Management, where he teaches and conducts research on risk communication and management.

Previously, he was a Reader in Social Geography at the University of Surrey. He is also an adjunct faculty at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, where he directs the Risk Communication Challenge Course for continuing education professionals. He is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University and a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Public Sector Research, Gothenburg University, Sweden.

Professor Löfstedt earned his BA and MA degrees at University of California Los Angeles (1988) and Clark University (1991), respectively, before completing his PhD in geography at Clark University (1993). After a post-doctorate position at the Risk, Society and Policy Group at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) (Laxenburg, Austria), he joined the University of Surrey as a lecturer in social geography before coming to Kings in 2002.