On the Ethics of Biodiversity Models, Forecasts and Scenarios
The development of numerical models to produce realistic prospective scenarios for the evolution of biological diversity is essential. Only integrative impact assessment models are able to take into account the diverse and complex interactions embedded in social-ecological systems. The knowledge used is objective, the procedure of their integration is rigorous and the data massive. Nevertheless, the technical choices (model ontology, treatment of scales and uncertainty, data choice and pre-processing, technique of representation, etc.) made at each stage of the development of models and scenarios are mostly circumstantial, depending on both the skills of modellers on a project and the means available to them. In the end, the scenarios selected and the way they are simulated limit the futures explored, and the options offered to decision makers and stakeholders to act. The ethical implications of these circumstantial choices are generally not documented, explained or even perceived by modellers. Applied ethics propose a coherent set of principles to guide a critical reflection on the social and environmental consequences of integrative modelling and simulation of biodiversity scenarios. Such reflection should be incorporated into the actual modelling process, in a broad participatory framework, and foster effective moral involvement of modellers, policy-makers and stakeholders, in preference to the application of fixed ethical rules.
KeywordsBiodiversity Data Ethics Model Scenario Ethical principles
We are grateful to three anonymous reviewers who have made a significant contribution to improving this article. This study was presented at the International Symposium “Investigating biodiversity and health at the human/animal/environment interface in the Nagoya Protocol era” held at the Faculty of Veterinary Technology, Kasetsart University, Bangkok (12–13 December 2017). It is a contribution to the ANR Project (2017-2021) No. ANR-17-CE35-0003-02 FutureHealthSEA “Predictive scenarios of health in Southeast Asia: linking land use and climate changes to infectious diseases”.
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