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.
In the current political and societal landscape, the needs, stakes and opportunities pertaining to science diplomacy have increased. However, communication between the scientific and diplomatic communities is not straightforward. There is potential for better harnessing European science and science cooperation for European science diplomacy and foreign policy goals, both at EU and EU Member State-level. Not only can new approaches to scientific advice in EU foreign policy benefit from advances in research, but science diplomats can also harness new ways of carrying out research that offer opportunities for foreign policy impact.
This is why the EU funds three projects looking into the subject. The first, EL-CSID, ended in early 2019. It collected evidence on EU science diplomacy and provided conceptual groundwork investigating EU actors in science diplomacy. Since beginning of 2018, two additional projects support the development of an EU science diplomacy: InsSciDE, coordinated by Sorbonne University, and S4D4C, coordinated by the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI).
The overall objective of S4D4C is to support current and future European science diplomacy for the benefit of European capacities, EU foreign policy goals and especially the development of solutions for global challenges. S4D4C has shaped its partnership so that it can effectively address this objective from an academic as well as a practitioners‘ perspective. 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.