1. How to Get Started?
2. What Is Science Diplomacy?
3. Who Are the Science Diplomacy Stakeholders?
4. How Does the EU Practice Science Diplomacy?
5. What Are the National, Regional and Thematic Approaches of Science Diplomacy?
6. What Set of Skills Do I Need to Be a Good Science Diplomat?
7. Hands On! Case Studies
8. How Can You Dive Deeper into Science Diplomacy?
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3.3 Types of Science Diplomacy Networks

In the previous lesson, we sorted the diverse ecosystem of science diplomacy stakeholders by type (who owns the initiative). Since science diplomacy has a very strong dimension of collaboration among stakeholders, these collaborations often become established networks with a variety of objectives.

In this lesson, we will devote some time in trying to understand how different stakeholders collaborate through concrete networks. Depending on the major purpose of that network, we will group them in four categories:

  1. Subnational networks: when their focus is on the local level such as any city or province
  2. National networks: when their focus pursues national interests
  3. Sub-global networks: when the array of activities are focused on a specific world region
  4. Global networks: involving stakeholders from all nationalities and tackling global challenges

In our proposal, we identify networks as groups of stakeholders joining together for a common purpose. It is important to bear this in mind throughout the following topics. Sometimes, one single stakeholder operates in a distributed way internationally (for example the network of Austrian science counsellors) but this does NOT make it a network according to our proposal, since they only involve one stakeholder (government) without any further distinction (different government departments, for instance).

Hence, these networks bring together stakeholders of different natures, following our proposal they would be government, intergovernmental and supranational, research and academia, private sector, and civil society. Therefore, we can have:

  • Mono-stakeholder networks: when it only involves different stakeholders from the same category. For instance, governmental networks that gather together different governmental departments or ministries around a common network
  • Multi-stakeholder networks: when the collaboration is among stakeholders of different types, such as a group composed of stakeholders from the industry sector and civil society

The examples that we show throughout the following topics should be interpreted as proof points of what we see as a clearly emerging global trend: stakeholders are increasingly experimenting with many different ways to harness the power of science and technology in external relations.

As in the previous lesson, please bear in mind that the networks we will show are examples and we do not intend to be exhaustive

Science diplomacy in an interaction space
Understood as “areas of collective actions” characterized by different dominant actors, practices and rules of engagement, science diplomacy can be composed of three connected, partly overlapping arenas (1) Scientific knowledge production (2) Problem deliberation / reflection (3) politics and powering.

First, in a ‘problem deliberation/reflection’ arena motivations and drivers are aligned: actors engage through practices and mechanisms for co-reflection about issues calling for a science diplomacy process vis-à-vis SDGs. Typical actors in this arena are Civil Society Organization, NGOs, WHO, FAO. Second, in a ‘scientific knowledge production’ arena actors discuss and decide on required scientific insights, technological innovation and related infrastructures. Typical actors in this arena are universities, research institutes, NGOs. Third, a ‘politics and powering’ arena hosts decision-making on how a certain challenge should be governed, given specific knowledge needs. Typical actors in this arena are governments, international organisations, multinational companies.

The actor composition of each arena differs per issue, region, and knowledge domain. For example, addressing the SDG 6 “Clean water and sanitation” involves completely different challenges concerning which actors to consider or what technology to apply when discussed in a South American context vis-à-vis a Middle Eastern one. Thus, the particular, idiosyncratic character of the science diplomacy interaction space leads to context-specific outcomes in terms of which tensions are worth addressing and therefore which governance requirements or principles are suitable. Furthermore, actors often do not belong exclusively to one arena. For example, organizations such as the WHO or OECD can be placed in the overlapping area between the scientific knowledge production arena and the problem deliberation/reflection arena.

Ewert Aukes (UT), Gonzalo Ordóñez-Matamoros (UT), Stefan Kuhlmann (UT), Sanaz Honarmand Ebrahimi (UT). Report in preparation (2021)

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The material provided under this course is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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