With a fresh government in place in the Netherlands, the new minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, called on the public for input into her new policy through an online consultation. As an active contributor to the current knowledge agenda of Dutch development policy, we took up the opportunity to share our vision for the Dutch Foreign Trade and Development agenda. The Broker’s main message is that the Netherlands should continue valuing knowledge for development, while keeping the focus on subjects that the Netherlands is particularly knowledgeable on.
We believe that for the Netherlands to reach its trade and development goals, it is crucial to keep investing in knowledge that supports sustainable and inclusive development policies. To ensure that research for this purpose is inclusive (in terms of multidisciplinary, multi-actor and geographically-diverse input) and effective (i.e. that research projects are matched with demand), we highlighted two points that need attention: the need for applied research and the importance of disseminating existing knowledge properly.
Next to the need for fundamental (scientific) research, there is a growing need for applied research. It is important that research projects are driven by the perspectives and needs of policymakers and practitioners in the field. These perspectives should be embedded in the research design and execution, from the outset, to ensure that the research is relevant and of interest. Secondly, it is important to invest in the proper dissemination of existing knowledge, to avoid the loss of knowledge capital and to make sure that knowledge reaches those who can put it to use.
These goals can be advanced by independent knowledge brokers that can operate between knowledge institutes, policy and practice, and that can facilitate the inclusion of perspectives from a broad range of actors. The current Knowledge Platforms for Global Development are an excellent example and have made the Netherlands a frontrunner in knowledge brokering globally. We think that the Netherlands should continue on this road and can add more value by deepening and further integrating the existing focus points, rather than formulating new ones.
The full text of our answer to the five questions put forward in the consultation on the policy regarding Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (all linked to the topics we work on in our projects and dossiers) is available here.
Photo credit main picture: Stijn Nieuwendijk via Flickr