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Model Uncertainty, Ambiguity and the Precautionary Principle: Implications for Biodiversity Management


  • Giannis Vardas


  • Anastasios Xepapadeas



We analyze ecosystem management under `unmeasurable' Knightian uncertainty or ambiguity which, given the uncertainties characterizing ecosystems, might be a more appropriate framework relative to the classic risk case (measurable uncertainty). This approach is used as a formal way of modelling the precautionary principle in the context of least favorable priors and maxmin criteria. We provide biodiversity management rules which incorporate the precautionary principle. These rules take the form of either safety margins and minimum safety standards or optimal harvesting under precautionary approaches.
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  • Giannis Vardas & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2010. "Model Uncertainty, Ambiguity and the Precautionary Principle: Implications for Biodiversity Management," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 45(3), pages 379-404, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:45:y:2010:i:3:p:379-404
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-009-9319-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert W. Hahn & Richard L. Schmalensee & Roger Noll & Robert Stavins & Lester B. Lave & George C. Eads & Milton Russell & V. Kerry Smith & Maureen L. Cropper & Paul R. Portney & Kenneth J. Arrow, 1996. "Benefit-Cost Analysis in Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulation," Books, American Enterprise Institute, number 51790, September.
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    4. Magill, Michael J. P., 1977. "A local analysis of N-sector capital accumulation under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 211-219, June.
    5. Brock,W. & Xepapadeas,A., 2002. "Regulating nonlinear environmental systems under Knightian uncertainty," Working papers 8, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    6. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
    7. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
    8. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
    9. Tisdell, Clement A., 2010. "Conservation Value," Economics, Ecology and Environment Working Papers 90879, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
    10. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leizarowitz, Arie & Tsur, Yacov, 2012. "Renewable resource management with stochastic recharge and environmental threats," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 736-753.
    2. Johannes Emmerling & Vassiliki Manoussi & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2016. "Climate Engineering under Deep Uncertainty and Heterogeneity," Working Papers 2016.52, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    3. Athanassoglou, Stergios & Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2012. "Pollution control with uncertain stock dynamics: When, and how, to be precautious," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 304-320.
    4. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2012. "Public Good Provision with Robust Decision Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 3996, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Anton Bondarev & Frank C. Krysiak, 2017. "Robust policy schemes for R&D games with asymmetric information," Working papers 2017/14, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    6. Geoffrey Heal, Anthony Millner, 2017. "Uncertainty and ambiguity in environmental economics: conceptual issues," GRI Working Papers 278, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    7. Stergios Athanassoglou & Valentina Bosetti, 2015. "Setting Environmental Policy When Experts Disagree," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 61(4), pages 497-516, August.
    8. Hennlock, Magnus, 2009. "Robust Control in Global Warming Management: An Analytical Dynamic Integrated Assessment," Discussion Papers dp-09-19, Resources For the Future.
    9. Stergios Athanassoglou & Anastasios Xepapadeas, "undated". "Pollution control: when, and how, to be precautious," DEOS Working Papers 1112, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    10. Chen, Yu-Fu & Funke, Michael & Glanemann, Nicole, 2011. "Dark Clouds or Silver Linings? Knightian Uncertainty and Climate Change," SIRE Discussion Papers 2011-64, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    11. Tsur, Yacov & Zemel, Amos, 2012. "Dynamic and stochastic analysis of environmental and natural resources," Discussion Papers 120017, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
    12. Anton Bondarev & Frank C. Krysiak, 2017. "Temporary and permanent technology lock-ins in the quality-differentiated Bertrand competition," Working papers 2017/09, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    13. Pauline Barrieu & Sinclair Desgagn�, 2009. "Economic policy when models disagree," GRI Working Papers 4, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    14. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2015. "On Sturdy Policy Evaluation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(S2), pages 447-473.
    15. Anastasios Xepapadeas & Catarina Roseta-Palma, 2013. "Instabilities and robust control in natural resource management," Portuguese Economic Journal, Springer;Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestao, vol. 12(3), pages 161-180, December.
    16. W.A. Brock & A. Xepapadeas & A.N. Yannacopoulos, 2014. "Optimal Control in Space and Time and the Management of Environmental Resources," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 33-68, October.
    17. Hennlock, Magnus, 2009. "Robust Control in Global Warming Management: An Analytical Dynamic Integrated Assessment," Working Papers in Economics 354, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    18. Pauline Barrieu & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2009. "Economic Policy when Models Disagree," CIRANO Working Papers 2009s-03, CIRANO.
    19. Heyen, Daniel & Goeschl, Timo & Wiesenfarth , Boris, 2015. "Risk Assessment under Ambiguity: Precautionary Learning vs. Research Pessimism," Working Papers 0605, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    20. Gren, Ing-Marie & Baxter, Peter & Mikusinski, Grzegorz & Possingham, Hugh, 2014. "Cost-effective biodiversity restoration with uncertain growth in forest habitat quality," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 77-92.

    More about this item


    Knightian uncertainty; Ambiguity; Risk; Precautionary principle; Biodiversity management; Optimal harvesting; Robust control; D81; Q20;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General


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