Impact

The overall aim of S4D4C is to support current and future European science diplomacy (SD) for the benefit of European capacities, EU foreign policy goals and especially the development of solutions for global challenges. At the end of the project’s duration (in April 2021) we were able to address our contributions considering the long-term impact of the project “Using science for/in diplomacy for addressing global challenges” (S4D4C).

As outlined in the project description (here), the project used interdisciplinary and social sciences research to explore the needs and experiences of science diplomacy stakeholders and analysed case studies. Building on the research work, a government framework and further policy advice were provided. Several training events, as well as training materials, were developed. Through outreach activities and networking, the project engaged globally and fostered an SD community.

Impact dimensions

S4D4C was built towards a set of long-term impacts which mirror the dedication and ambition of the S4D4C team:

  • Stronger EU position in the global context
  • Realization of the EU’s contribution to the solution of global challenges
  • Stable and productive diplomatic relations with the EU’s international partners
  • Enhanced cooperation between EU, its Member States and international partners
  • Better contribution of SD to EU foreign policy
  • Improvement of the global response to societal challenges
  • Turning excellent science, technology and innovation into solutions for global challenges

Although being very desirable, those impacts are clearly not possible to achieve fully within the life-time of a research project on science diplomacy. They are long-term developments that can be initiated, but need to be driven by different institutions, alliances and policies to become manifest. Impacts take time to become visible and measurable and they can often directly or unequivocally be connected to project outputs.

In our report “The S4D4C Impact Story” we outline certain already visible impact highlights that we understand as milestones on the pathways to impact dimensions. Viewed over time, those impact highlights might be the spark that initiates change (or contributes to it) and will feed into those desired developments. Please find below a short summary and download the whole report:

  The Impact Story of S4D4C

Generating new knowledge and enriching the academic debate on Science Diplomacy

S4D4C partners produced a number of substantial scientific and policy-oriented publications. They are based on S4D4Cs research on a conceptual framework, case studies and the governance framework. All in all, we can count 25 publications (20 publications on the S4DC website, 5 of which are policy briefs, and 5 publications in peer-reviewed journals) by the end of the project. S4D4C has substantially contributed to evolving the academic debate of SD theoretically and empirically. We can monitor download figures, citations and social media buzz by the end of the project. The research and researchers’ engagement in conferences did generate insights and enriched the academic and practitioner´s debate on SD. Analyses and discussions have already been acknowledged in the scientific community and proved to be of value. We expect that the uptake and citations will rise in the following months and will in the long-run lead to a better contribution of SD to EU and foreign policy.

Making practical knowledge on Science Diplomacy available

The S4D4C project aimed to support the European SD community with the content, knowledge and skills necessary to successfully navigate the SD interface in Europe and beyond. To this end, S4D4C organized a set of SD training programmes and provided training SD materials. We did that for example through two training workshops, the open online course, interactive webinars and an Open Doors Programme. Registrations and applications for all these offers surpassed our expectations regularly. Within 3 weeks of the launch of the online course, 3000 registrations were counted and at the end of the project (April 2021) more than 6000 persons have registered and 600 certificates were issued. The results of the satisfactory survey for the online course clearly revealed that most participants did not know anything about SD before starting the course, or only a little. The learning curve rose sharply with the material provided in the eight modules of the online course. Most of the 1227 respondents were confident about the use of their newly acquired knowledge and found the course useful for their own personal career objectives. Over time, the online course was also endorsed by different organisations, which we assess as an indicator of its impact potential in raising competencies in science diplomacy which will lead to a systemic impact in the long run. Furthermore, S4D4C prepared guidelines for trainers and institutions when designing and executing SD training: The “Toolkit for Trainers” (Josten et al 2020). The information and recommendations provided in the toolkit are based mainly on the training experiences gained within the S4D4C project. As part of the endeavour to provide good quality training and resources, the project partners developed a wide range of educational materials which are made available with a CC-BY or CC-BY-NC open source license and provided free of charge.

In the long run, capable European science diplomats will contribute to a stronger EU position in the global context. Although outreach addressed scientists as well as diplomats, we would have liked to engage more diplomats than we did, especially in the online training. It will be a task for the European Union Science Diplomacy Alliance to address this as a challenge and dedicate further efforts to it.

Raising a global Science Diplomacy Community and fostering alliances between stakeholders

While being focused on science diplomacy in Europe, the project had a clear global dimension planned, including two global (2018 and 2021) stakeholder events. Especially the Final Networking Event involved 122 speakers and 765 attendees from all over the world. Global engagement was visible in many activities, such as the signatories of the Madrid Declaration, the enrolment in the webinars and the online course, etc. Not only geographical range, but also addressing multiple stakeholder groups was a concern as we aimed to design our activities to be inclusive in our outreach and the creation and support of networks and large-scale alliances in and around SD. With the launch of the “EU Science Diplomacy Alliance for Addressing Global Challenges” at the closing ceremony of the S4D4C final networking event, an important step on the road to institutionalisation of European SD was taken. The nucleus of this network is based on partner organisations of the three EU funded SD projects S4D4C, InsSciDE and El-CSID. The EU SD Alliance is set up with the aim to facilitate interactions and dialogue, training, institutional capacity building and coordination of grant-seeking or use of joint funding, if available. It is designed as a space for cooperative activities and voluntary coordination, and relies upon the participating membership community and networks to highlight and select different areas and innovative activities to be pursued. It is hoped that a great variety of societal challenges may be addressed over time and sustainable and fruitful interaction with partners outside of Europe can be pursued. 

S4D4C outreach activities, conferences and trainings led to the gentle formation of an SD community, not only in the European but global SD context and throughout various stakeholder groups. It furthermore supported existing networks and alliances and is a founding force in the new European Alliance on Science Diplomacy. The latter aims to be the space to escort and bundle EU SD developments.

Shaping national and regional Science Diplomacy policies

National and regional SD discussions have strongly benefitted from S4D4C inputs, we can track this down in several member states, in particular where S4D4C project partners are based such as Austria, Germany and Spain. S4D4C has also had an impact globally on SD approaches: the most tangible is the Latin American example, where project partners have been invited to different high-level events nationally and regionally.

By interacting with national and European government officials, S4D4C partners supported the shaping of national and regional SD policies in a number of cases. The further strategic development of national SD within a European context does already support enhanced cooperation between EU and its MS as well as international partners at the interface of science and international policy.

Advancing European Science Diplomacy

Our activities were strongly geared towards important European stakeholders on a personal and institutional level such as participation in the Task Force on SD of the Strategic Forum for International S&T Cooperation (SFIC) providing support to key papers. In addition, close contact was established with key stakeholders in the EC such as the Directorate for International Cooperation and the responsible policy officers for science diplomacy or the members of cabinet responsible for SD. As a highlight, Mariya Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture Education and Youth provided some insight into the SD of the European Union by publishing a statement on S4D4C´s website in October 2020 and also tweeted about it. Several key stakeholders expressed credible interest in the European Union Science Diplomacy Alliance.

European science policy had already been well coordinated amongst MS. The strategic development of SD as a tool of the EUs own foreign policy is still in the making. By establishing good contacts to the relevant institutions, S4D4C contributed to this task. Research outputs and policy-oriented recommendations were acknowledged by government officials on several occasions already and we are hopeful that this will continue in the near future. We believe our work will have a positive impact on the EU’s SD approach and the pathway to increased inclusivity and improved global responses to societal challenges.

Conclusion

S4D4C received funding from the European Commission in order to follow what it promised in the project proposal: implementing its activities in order to fulfil its objectives and contribute to the indicated long-term impacts. At the end of the project, we can assess that the work was successfully carried out, mostly as planned, with some activities and outputs being shifted or adapted as a reaction to unanticipated circumstances such as the COVID-19 crisis or relevant feedback, always striving to maximize the usefulness of the outputs for the community.