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Principles for Ethical Decision-Making in Environmental Practice

English title Principles for Ethical Decision-Making in Environmental Practice
Applicant Wallimann-Helmer Ivo
Number 197363
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département des Géosciences Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.04.2021 - 31.03.2025
Approved amount 899'478.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Social geography and ecology
Environmental Research
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (13)

Conservation; Preservation; Alien Species; Biodiversity; Climate Adapatation; Environmental Ethics; Climate Justice; Environmental Management; Environmental Administration; Environmental Governance; Principlism; Climate Change; Applied Ethics

Lay Summary (German)

Die Menschheit steht vor so vielen Umweltherausforderungen wie nie zuvor in ihrer Geschichte. All diese Herausforderungen erfordern sofortiges Handeln, das aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach ethische Konflikte impliziert. In diesem Projekt entwickeln wir ein neues Standard-Framework für die Bewertung und Entscheidung ethischer Konflikte in den verschiedenen Kontexten der Umweltpraxis.
Lay summary
Die Bewältigung heutiger Umweltherausforderungen hat bereits ethische Bedenken, Dilemmata und Konflikte verursacht und wird dies auch weiterhin in zunehmendem Masse tun. Diese betreffen verschiedene Interessensgruppen und politische Ziele mit unvereinbaren ökologischen, wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Forderungen. Dies erfordert ein allgemeines Framework für die Analyse und Entscheidung verschiedenartigster ethischer Konflikte.

Für die Entwicklung dieses Frameworks setzen wir auf die ethische Methodik des Principalismus, die in der medizinischen Praxis weit verbreitet ist. Wir gehen bei unserer Untersuchung von vier Prinzipien aus, die in der umweltethischen Literatur umfassend angewandt und diskutiert werden und in der internationalen Umweltpolitik von großer Bedeutung sind: das Verursacherprinzip, das Prinzip der Zahlungsfähigkeit, das Prinzip der Pro-Kopf-Gleichheit und das Prinzip der prozeduralen Beteiligung.

Wir werden diese vier Prinzipien in drei Fallstudien aus verschiedenen Bereichen der Umweltethik und -politik anwenden und neu formulieren: 1. Klimaanpassung / Klimaschäden und -verluste, 2. biologische Vielfalt und gebietsfremde Arten, 3. Schutz und Erhaltung von Wildtieren.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.02.2021

Lay Summary (French)

L'humanité est confrontée à plus de défis environnementaux que jamais auparavant dans son histoire. Tous ces défis urgents exigent une action immédiate et implique des défis éthiques. Dans ce projet, nous développons un nouveau cadre standard pour évaluer et trancher des conflits éthiques dans tous les différents contextes de la pratique environnementale.
Lay summary
La gouvernance des défis environnementaux auxquels l'humanité est confrontée aujourd'hui a déjà provoqué des préoccupations, des dilemmes et des conflits éthiques majeurs et continuera à le faire de plus en plus. Ils impliquent diverses parties prenantes et objectifs politiques ayant des intérêts écologiques, économiques et sociaux incompatibles. Cela exige un cadre général pour analyser et trancher divers types de conflits éthiques.

Afin de développer un tel cadre, nous nous appuyons sur la méthodologie éthique du principisme (principlism), qui est largement appliquée dans la pratique médicale. Nous partons de quatre principes largement appliqués et discutés dans la littérature d'éthique environnementale et très pertinents dans la politique environnementale internationale : le principe du pollueur-payeur, le principe de la capacité à payer, le principe de l'égalité par habitant et le principe de l'implication procédurale.

Nous appliquerons et reformulerons ces quatre principes dans trois études de cas impliquant différents domaines de l'éthique et de la politique environnementales : 1. Adaptation au climat / pertes et dommages climatique, 2. Biodiversité et espèces exotiques, 3. Protection et conservation de la faune.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.02.2021

Lay Summary (English)

Humanity is facing as many environmental challenges as ever before in its history. All these urgent challenges demand immediate action most probably implying ethical conflicts. In this project, we develop a new standard framework for assessing and deciding ethical conflicts occurring in the different contexts of environmental governance.
Lay summary
The governance of the environmental challenges humanity is facing today has already caused major ethical concerns, dilemmas, and conflicts and it will continue increasingly to do so. They involve various stakeholders and policy goals with incompatible ecological, economic, and social interests. This demands a general framework for analysing and deciding these ethical challenges. 
In order to develop such a framework, we build upon the ethicalmethodology of principlism, which is widely applied in medical practice.We start our investigation from four principles extensively applied anddiscussed in environmental ethical literature and highly relevant ininternational environmental politics: the polluter-pays principle, theability-to-pay principle, the equal-per-capita principle and theprinciple of procedural involvement.
We will apply and reformulate these four principles in three case studies involving different fields of environmental ethics and policy: 1. Climate Adaptation / Climate Loss and Damage, 2. Biodiversity and Alien Species, 3. Wildlife Protection and Conservation.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 01.02.2021

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Humanity is facing as many environmental challenges as ever before in its history. These urgent challenges range from anthropogenic climate change to resource depletion and demand immediate action. Such action raises major ethical concerns and conflicts involving diverse parties with often conflicting sustainability goals and interests. However, environmental ethics to date has mainly been preoccupied with general concerns such as understanding our relation to nonhuman nature and has approached specific environmental challenges, if at all, in a piecemeal and unsystematic fashion. The aim of this project is to develop a general ethical framework for analyzing, systematizing, and deciding upon the ethical issues emerging in environmental politics, management, and administration.Building upon the methodology of principlism well known from medical ethics the ultimate outcome of this project will be a textbook that integrates applied exercises, forms, and checklists ready for practical use to make the framework widely available and usable in environmental science practice and education. Our investigation starts from the basis that it is possible to define a core set of ethical principles forming common morality in many diverse contexts of environmental governance and practice. This core set of principles determines how to decide ethical conflicts when implementing sustainability goals in various governance contexts. Principlism holds that, depending on the context, the core set of principles must be specified and weighted differently, leading to different moral duties. In order to verify whether principlism as a methodology can be a general tool for ethical decision-making in environmental governance and exactly what principles it stipulates, we will investigate three case studies. Taken together, their analysis contributes to the final formulation of the framework for ethical decision-making.We start our investigation from the hypothesis that four principles extensively discussed in environmental ethical literature and highly relevant in international politics form the core set of ethical principles in environmental practice: A) the polluter-pays principle, B) the ability-to-pay principle, C) the equal-per-capita principle, and D) the procedural-involvement principle, meaning the fair democratic involvement of those affected. We will apply and reformulate these four principles in three case studies and different fields of environmental ethics and policy: 1. Climate Adaptation / Loss and Damage: The first case study concerns adaptation and loss and damage policy in reaction to increased environmental risks due to climate change. 2. Biodiversity and Alien Species: The second case study investigates the challenge of alien species management and the preservation of biodiversity in Europe and globally. 3. Wildlife protection and conservation: The third case study deals with wildlife protection and conservation with a special focus on cases in Namibia, where several competing wildlife conservation practices potentially cause varying ethical conflicts.