Translating Science into Law: Risk and Uncertainty in Science-Policy Interfaces

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Dickson Poon School of Law Departments


The urgency to act on environmental degradation and
global warming has been stressed time and again by
scientists. In the field of international environmental law,
science-policy interfaces (SPIs) represent the keystone of
any Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) as they
are the fora where science is translated into law. Thus, SPIs
are important bodies within international environmental
law that provide key insight on how legal obligations are
shaped out of scientific knowledge. My research looks at
how different inputs from natural sciences and their
specific risk and uncertainty discourse are redefined into
legal terminology and whether the weight given to them is
the same. My doctoral research answers the question 'how
is scientific knowledge translated into legal obligations in
science-policy interfaces?' To answer this, my research
takes a socio-legal approach, examining environmental law
through its interaction with social and natural sciences.
Empirical research, namely case studies and semistructured interviews with SPI members, will come support
these findings. This material will show how the discourse of
risk and uncertainty is integrated - qualified and quantified
- in scientific reports, findings, policy documents and
recommendations within SPIs. This research thus aims to
understand the process of decision-making in SPIs and to
bridge the gap often overlooked between science and law.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2434190 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2022 Mara Rebecca Wendebourg