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?
Satisfaction Survey

3.2.6 Civil Society Stakeholders

Civil society is gaining relevance in all fields of public policy as a key actor that participates and co-creates policy priorities with policy makers and other stakeholders. Science diplomacy is not an exception to this trend.

In fact, these stakeholders may sometimes cover science diplomacy activities between countries that cannot be performed by governmental stakeholders, due for example to tense diplomatic relationships.

The World Bank defines civil society organisations as “the wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) therefore refer to a wide of array of organisations: community groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour unions, indigenous groups, charitable organisations, faith-based organisations, professional associations, and foundations.”

For simplicity, we highlight the following types of civil society organisations’ nature:

  • NGOs,
  • Non-for-profit private foundations or charities,
  • Civil society associations and other organisations, and also
  • Individuals, who for example use their reputation to catalyse actions

Main interests

Civil society stakeholders take a number of roles in this field and, among their goals we highlight:

  • Engaging with the general public
  • Advocating for science, public policy and politics to communicate better
  • Advocating for science as a key element to improve international relations
  • Facilitating communication channels and exchange interfaces among researchers, politicians and other stakeholders
  • Supporting research by providing funds for international research projects
  • Focusing on increasing science education worldwide with special emphasis in developing countries
  • Promoting and advancing on science diplomacy for concrete specific goals
  • Advocating for concrete specific goals of science diplomacy (climate change, etc.)

Main challenges

Civil society stakeholders will face challenges depending on their specific nature. For instance, the lack of funding to sustain professional activity may hinder the reach of many civil society organisations.

Also, the need to build up a social capital network to gain credibility and ensure policy impact is a challenge for new organisations.

For those organisations already established and actively present, they must navigate changes in local, sub-national, national and/or supranational governments (depending on their area of influence) because of new elections, switch of government officials and policy-makers, or change of policy priorities.

What the experts think

One paramount example of a civil society stakeholder in science diplomacy is the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), we have invited one expert to explain how they foster more connection between scientists and government officers.

Tom Wang

Tom Wang

Expert in Science, Technology and International Relations. Former Chief International Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

How does the AAAS Policy Fellow programme work and why is it important for the capacity building of researchers in science diplomacy?


Read more!

Explore below some examples of civil society stakeholders in science diplomacy with their variety of actions.

Non-for-profit private foundations or charities
– Wellcome Trust (Link).

Civil society associations and other organisations

– The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Center for Science Diplomacy (Link).
– The Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) (Link).
– The Barcelona SciTech DiploHub (Link): in our taxonomy, this is considered a Sub-national network and is further described in 3.3.1 Sub-national Networks but we refer to it here because its leadership falls within a civil society organisation.

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