COMMENT: The COVID-19 Global Pandemic & Decision-Making

Early Warning, Risk Analysis, & the Precautionary Principle

(Posted 17 June 2020)

KEY WORDS: COVID-19; preparedness; risk assessment - communication; precautionary principle; epidemiological assessment; resilience; sustainable development; SDG 3.

1.0     A pathway to address global concerns related to the “early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks”, is outlined.

2.0    The linkage between the application of the precautionary principle and epidemiological assessment is the trigger for a risk assessment - the basis for decision-making on preparedness and the early warning of a pandemic.

3.0    Using COVID-19 as an example, decision-making under the pathway would proceed along the following sequence of steps: The Precautionary Principle - Epidemiological Assessment - Risk Assessment - Risk Communication - The Risk Management/ Resilience/Sustainable Development Linkage.

4.0     The pathway can also be a relevant consideration to avoid history repeating  e.g. the global controversy over the time taken before an early warning was given for COVID-19.


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A review of the precautionary principle, environmental decision-making and

comparitive approaches taken by Australia, UK and USA, were part of

Chapter 7: "Risk, Precaution and the Environment - Biotechnology", of Ted's book.

A Google search of  this book's title,

Finding Solutions for Environmental Conflicts

turns up over 250,000,000  results  - including #1, page 1.

  • During the 15-year period Ted held a part-time appointment as the Environmental Member and a Presiding Member of the Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Ted applied the precautionary principle in decision-making in cases litigated under the 1975 Federal statute: The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.

  • In 1993, Dr Ted Christie published one of the earliest - if not the first - articles in Australia on the precautionary principle:The precautionary principle and environmental decision-making’, Queensland Planner, 33, 10–14.

  • In 1994 Ted - as a barrister in professional practice - was awarded a United States Fulbright Professional Scholarship for the research topic, “The Precautionary Principle and Environmental Decision-Making.

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