At the initiative of the Tunisia-European Union Twinning Programme «Institutional support for improving the performance of the Tunisian research and innovation system», a series of three webinars on science diplomacy brought together diplomats and academics in Tunisia on 1-6 July 2020. The project involves the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, hand in hand with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT, partner in S4D4C) and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research in Tunisia. The meetings featured S4D4C’s expert Ana Elorza from FECYT, InsSciDE expert Pierre-Bruno Ruffini, professor at the University du Havre, Minh-Ha Pham, vice-president at University PSL Paris and Jean Christophe Mauduit, researcher and lecturer in University College London. The webinars were held in French and attracted a total of 80 participants.
Attendees of the course were from different ministerial departments, research centers and universities in Tunisia. Additionally, a range of international experts in science diplomacy participated as speakers together with the science advice and diplomacy coordinators of FECYT, who were also the main co-organizers of the course.
The opening webinar was inaugurated by Olfa Zeribi Benslimane, Director General for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020 in the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and Hanene Tajouri, diplomat and Director General of Europe in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tunisia. Experts of the EU delegation in Tunisia such as Mr. Rajeh Khemiri were also participating.
The first day focused on the general concept of science diplomacy and explored how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to bring science and diplomacy together to face global challenges. FECYT science advice and diplomacy coordinator, Ana Elorza introduced the current global framework for science diplomacy. The speakers discussed with the participants in a virtual roundtable format about the main challenges and future of science diplomacy in Tunisia. During the second day, the participants learnt about the foundations and basic mechanisms of science diplomacy: the different approaches, stakeholders and science diplomacy networks operating at different levels (global, sub-global, national, and sub-national). The third day focused on explaining different science diplomacy approaches. Silvia Bojinova, Policy Officer EU Commission (DG RTD), introduced the European Union approach to science diplomacy and the European Research Area. The rest of session covered regional and thematic approaches of science diplomacy and especially showcased the findings of S4D4C case studies which illustrated how science and diplomacy were needed and productively used in addressing global challenges.
The last day engaged all the participants to discuss the main pillars and recommendations to organise the first International Seminar on Science Diplomacy in Tunisia in 2021.
The recording of the event (in French) is available https://www.facebook.com/horizon2020tunisia/videos/598669384187026