Strengthening conservation science as a crisis discipline by addressing challenges of precaution, privilege, and individualism

Stirling, Andy and Burgman, Mark A (2021) Strengthening conservation science as a crisis discipline by addressing challenges of precaution, privilege, and individualism. Conservation Biology. pp. 1-9. ISSN 0888-8892

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
Download (978kB)


Conservation science deals with crises and supports policy interventions devised to mitigate highly uncertain threats that pose irreversible harm. When conventional policy tools, such as quantitative risk assessments, are insufficient, the precautionary principle provides a practical framework and range of robust heuristics. Yet, precaution is often resisted in many policy arenas, especially those involving powerful self-interests, and this resistance is compounded by structures of privilege and competitive individualism in science. We describe key drivers and effects of such resistance in conservation science. These include a loss of rigor under uncertainty, an erosion of crisis response capabilities, and a further reinforcement of privileged interests in conservation politics. We recommend open acknowledgement of the pressures exerted by power inside science; greater recognition for the value of the precautionary principle under uncertainty; deliberate measures to resist competitive individualism; support for blind review, open science, and data sharing; and a shift from hierarchical multidisciplinarity toward more egalitarian transdisciplinarity to accelerate advances in conservation science.

Article impact statement: Precautionary principle, privilege structures among disciplines, and culture of individualism link to effective conservation policy making.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: conservation policy, disciplinary privilege, individualism, individualismo, poder en la ciencia, política de conservación, power in science, precautionary principle, principio de precaución, privilegio disciplinario, 个人主义, 保护政策, 科学中的权力, 纪律特权, 预防性原则
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2021 08:24
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2023 10:53

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update