Facilitating a European Union Science Diplomacy

5. Feb 2018

We support science diplomacy as a means to foster the EU's foreign policy goals and its commitment to the SDGs

Science diplomacy can be described, in its broadest sense, as all those activities that span the spheres of science, on the one hand, and diplomacy, on the other. Science advice to multilateral climate negotiations is one example, seeing international research infrastructures as a bridge for foreign relations is another. Activities and research around the topic of science diplomacy have increased since the seminal 2010 AAAS/Royal Society Report "New frontiers in science diplomacy". The European Union is interested in finding its own way and style of science diplomacy.

This is why it currently funds three projects looking into the subject. The first, EL-CSID, is about to end in early 2019. It collected evidence on EU science diplomacy and provided conceptual groundwork investigating EU actors in science diplomacy. As of 2018, two additional projects will support the development of an EU science diplomacy: InsSciDE, coordinated by Sorbonne University, and S4D4C, coordinated by ZSI. In S4D4C, we make use of case-based research to develop a governance framework for EU science diplomacy, training and capacity-building measures as well as online knowledge resources for science diplomats. 

The task of supporting the development of EU science diplomacy is exciting for a number of reasons. For instance, the multi-level governance system of the EU, with its regional, national and supranational layers, offers both challenges and opportunities: coordinating Member State activities can be difficult, but the supranational EU layer can also offer added value (in certain topics, for certain groups of Member States, etc). Besides these governance aspects, there are developments in the EU research landscape as well as in its foreign policy institutions that can be harnessed for an effective science diplomacy: open science, public diplomacy, etc. S4D4C is set up to harness these opportunities. 

We bring together a group of science diplomacy researchers, experts on EU foreign and science policy, science diplomacy practitioners as well as training institutions. The people involved met on 1 and 2 February at the Vienna School of International Studies to kick off project activities. The immediate next steps will be the development of a conceptual framework for the case study-based research. Data collection will run until the end of 2018. Our findings will feed into the application-oriented activities of the project: training and capacity-building, the provision of knowledge resources for science diplomats and the facilitation of a governance framework. 

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Tags: international cooperation, science diplomacy, SDGs, sustainability

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