Skip to main content

Science in Negotiation

The Role of Scientific Evidence in Shaping the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, 2012-2015

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Examines how scientific evidence has shaped the global policy targets articulated in the SDGs
  • Explores the role of scientific evidence within United Nations deliberation
  • Discusses the influence of different evidence inputs and institutional factors in shaping outcomes

Part of the book series: Sustainable Development Goals Series (SDGS)

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this book

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

eBook USD 129.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access

Licence this eBook for your library

Institutional subscriptions

About this book

This book explores the role of scientific evidence within United Nations (UN) deliberation by examining the negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), endorsed by Member States in 2015. Using the SDGs as a case study, this book addresses a key gap in our understanding of the role of evidence in contemporary international policy-making. It is structured around three overarching questions: (1) how does scientific evidence influence multilateral policy development within the UN General Assembly? (2) how did evidence shape the goals and targets that constitute the SDGs?; and (3) how did institutional arrangements and non-state actor engagements mediate the evidence-to-policy process in the development of the SDGs? The ultimate intention is to tease out lessons on global policy-making and to understand the influence of different evidence inputs and institutional factors in shaping outcomes.

To understand the value afforded to scientific evidence within multilateral deliberation, a conceptual framework is provided drawing upon literature from policy studies and political science, including recent theories of evidence-informed policy-making and new institutionalism. It posits that the success or failure of evidence informing global political processes rests upon the representation and access of scientific stakeholders, levels of community organisation, the framing and presentation of evidence, and time, including the duration over which evidence and key conceptual ideas are presented. Cutting across the discussion is the fundamental question of whose evidence counts and how expertise is defined? The framework is tested with specific reference to three themes that were prominent during the SDG negotiation process; public health (articulated in SDG 3), urban sustainability (articulated in SDG 11), and data and information systems (which were a cross-cutting theme of the dialogue). Within each, scientific communities had specific demands and through an exploration of key literature, including evidence inputs and UN documentation, as well as through key informant interviews, the translation of these scientific ideas into policy priorities is uncovered. 

The intended audiences of this book include academic practitioners studying evidence to policy processes, multilateral negotiation and/or UN policy planning. The book also intends to provide useful insights for policy makers, including UN diplomats, officials and staff working to improve the quality of evidence communication and uptake within multilateral institutions. Finally, it aims to support the whole global academic and scientific community, including students of public policy and political science, by providing insights on how to input into, influence, and even shape international evidence-informed policy-making.

Similar content being viewed by others


Table of contents (6 chapters)

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

    Jessica Espey

About the author

Dr. Jessica Espey is a political economist with more than 16 years of professional experience conducting research and policy work on inclusive economic and social development. She has a particular interest in the governance of sustainable development and has written extensively on multilateralism, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), sustainable urbanization, horizontal and vertical inequalities, and the management of data and statistics. Her research findings have been circulated in policy publications, academic journals and books. She is currently a Lecturer in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol.  From 2014-2020 she was a Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and prior to that she served as an Adviser to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Science in Negotiation

  • Book Subtitle: The Role of Scientific Evidence in Shaping the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, 2012-2015

  • Authors: Jessica Espey

  • Series Title: Sustainable Development Goals Series

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Earth and Environmental Science, Earth and Environmental Science (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-18125-2Published: 29 November 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-18128-3Published: 29 November 2023

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-18126-9Published: 28 November 2022

  • Series ISSN: 2523-3084

  • Series E-ISSN: 2523-3092

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXIII, 114

  • Number of Illustrations: 2 b/w illustrations, 3 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Sustainable Development, Social Policy, Public Policy

Publish with us