The ecosystem approach and the precautionary principle

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The ecosystem approach can be considered the landmark regulatory strategy of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other biodiversity-related conventions. While it has had a growing influence in the further development of international biodiversity law, as well as in other areas of international law, legal scholarship is surprisingly thin with regard to the status and implications of the ecosystem approach. This chapter discusses the evolution of the ecosystem approach as a landmark regulatory feature of the CBD and breaks it down into its interrelated components. To that end, the chapter also explores the interplay between the ecosystem approach and the precautionary principle, and the role of the former in ensuring mutual supportiveness among biodiversity-related conventions, as well as with international human rights law. The chapter concludes by highlighting overarching legal research questions concerning the ecosystem approach that await clarification.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Environmental Law
Subtitle of host publicationBiodiversity and Nature Protection
EditorsElisa Morgera, Jona Razzaque
Place of PublicationCheltenham, UK
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameElgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Law series
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing


  • ecosystem approach
  • environmental law
  • biodiversity
  • precautionary principle

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