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Closing the gap between knowledge and policy: review of the knowledge platforms published

Annemarie  van de Vijsel | April 06, 2017

Last month an external learning review of the five Dutch knowledge platforms for global development, several of which The Broker has been involved in, was published. The review shares some important lessons on knowledge brokering. Knowledge brokering – which is defined in the review as “the iterative and interactive process of knowledge creation, exchange and use” – is an essential method in the working process of the platforms. The review concludes that the platforms have put considerable effort into the creation and exchange of knowledge and that the gradual uptake of knowledge brokering by people in and around the platforms has improved the alignment of policy with knowledge. 

Titled ‘The Gold Standard’, the review writes that “[i]t has been mentioned on several occasions that the platforms ‘have gold in their hands’” (page 9). This gold can be found in the added value of the platforms in contributing to closing the gaps between knowledge and policy. These gaps were the motivation to initiate the creation of such platforms. In the Kennisbrief, which was sent to the Dutch Parliament in 2011, the then State Secretary of Development Cooperation Ben Knapen described these gaps as including a “lack of focus and coherence in research programming, weak relations between different stakeholders (including the Ministry, knowledge institutes, NGOs and private companies), and the fragmented funding and use of knowledge by ministries and other practitioners” (page 90).

Over the past years, the knowledge platforms have worked as multi-stakeholder learning spaces for policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers, from the Netherlands and internationally, supporting the use of new and existing knowledge for more evidence-based policymaking and programming. The review writes that the basis that the platforms have laid may be used “as a new institutional setup in the Dutch knowledge landscape” (page 97). As a general advocate of knowledge brokering, The Broker is very happy with this result.

And more opportunities lie ahead. The review adds that “Given that there is a growing need (and budding desire) for collaborative approaches between a multiplicity of stakeholders, the platforms are well positioned to act as mediator and facilitator for those interactions and to ensure that the knowledge basis underneath policymaking does not get undermined” (page97).

The Broker is actively involved in INCLUDE, the Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies, and the Food & Business Knowledge Platform (F&BKP), and has assisted the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law. It has also supported VIA Water with its website and content development and built and administers a website that serves as an umbrella for the five knowledge platforms.