The ESF-NL: a bridge between science and diplomacy

Embassy Science Fellows Programme (ESF-NL),Knowledge brokering,Magazine17 Apr 2023Ruth van de Velde, Siri Lijfering

At the beginning of this year, knowledge brokers Ruth van de Velde and Siri Lijfering conducted an evaluation of the Embassy Science Fellows Programme (ESF-NL), a joint initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The ESF-NL (2022) funded 7 academic fellows from different scientific fields to work for a maximum of 3 months at Dutch embassies around the globe. The programme facilitates Dutch embassies in accessing scientific and technological expertise from universities and other knowledge institutions. In addition, it allows Dutch scientists to use their expertise and international scientific networks to support the local priorities of Dutch embassies.

Through a survey and interviews with academic fellows and their counterparts at the embassy, The Broker was able to gather insights and lessons learned, highlight best practices and formulate recommendations for the development of future programming of the ESF-NL. The evaluation highlighted that the ESF-NL is perceived as an opportunity to build bridges between academic research and policy, and was highly valued by both the fellows and their embassy counterparts. Fellows gained unique insights and experiences in the diplomatic world, connecting their research to real-world practice and expanding their networks for personal and professional development. For the participating embassies, the programme provided an avenue for addressing knowledge gaps and promoting expertise by expanding and deepening relevant knowledge in the context of their work.

As The Broker, we see a clear case for the continuation of the ESF-NL programme. At the same time, the evaluation showed opportunities for further engagement and improvement of the programme. Increasing the embedding of research findings and building upon existing knowledge by working with knowledge partners, can maximise synergies and learnings and is therefore a worthwhile investment.

The call for the Embassy science fellowship programme for the 2023/2024 academic year will open soon (Spring 2023). Building bridges between science and diplomacy is key to making knowledge work for an inclusive and sustainable world.

Find out more about the ESF-NL here!