UK-Norway bilateral workshop on science and the law of the environment

04 March 2024

There are many environmental issues where relevant scientific knowledge and applicable international law are both incomplete, and/or do not interact adequately. In order to explore ways in which this situation could be improved, the Royal Society and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA) convened a bilateral workshop meeting in Oslo, 9 – 10 March 2023.

Two contrasting and controversial topics were selected for discussion, one in the atmosphere and one in the ocean, and one where international law is already developed and one where it is lacking. These topics were the Deep Sea Mining of minerals (DSM), and Solar Radiation Management or solar geoengineering (SRM), in particular the Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI) method. The purpose was (a) to improve mutual understanding of the capabilities, limitations and interactions of science and the law relating to these topics, and (b) to produce briefing documents on them, to inform senior policy makers in the UK and Norway (and elsewhere) about the state of knowledge on the technical feasibility and environmental impacts of these two topics, and the implications for the application and development of international law. The participants (listed in Annex 1) comprised scientists and lawyers with expertise in each of the topics, together with additional experts invited to facilitate the process.

A meeting report, and a summary and briefing note, were produced as a record of these discussions. They are not a formal statement of the policies of the Society or DNVA. It is based upon two scoping papers that had been prepared beforehand as a basis for the discussions, revised as necessary, together with a summary of the conclusions reached, as agreed by the participants during and after the meeting.