COST global networking
The COST programme nourishes open and inclusive networks of excellence in all scientific domains and has established itself as a platform where people and ideas can grow and build global connections. It has been contributing decisively to the internationalisation process of research and innovation communities and to global cooperation in science and technology.
COST is actively engaged in bringing together all relevant stakeholders that can provide added value to tackle different societal challenges. Global cooperation is based on mutual benefit that ensures the advancement of scientific fields in which partners are working in.
COST supports and encourages the participation of international partners coming from non-COST Members in all of its Actions. It does so by providing financial support (to its Near Neighbour Countries) and offering Partner Member status (to its International Partner Countries).
Near Neighbour Country participation in running COST Actions
01/05/2020 – 31/10/21
*In 2022 Georgia, Ukraine, and Armenia became COST Full Members and are no longer Near Neighbour Countries.
Near Neighbour Countries and International Partner Countries
COST Near Neighbour Countries (NNC)
The COST programme connects researchers and innovators from the countries neighbouring Full Members. These countries are known as COST Near Neighbour Countries and include Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus*, Egypt, The Faroe Islands, Jordan, Kosovo**, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine***, Russia****, Syria, and Tunisia.
COST aims to double NNC participation in COST Actions by the end of Horizon Europe.
*As of 2 March 2023 until further notice, measures are taken to suspend cooperation with Belarus for the execution of the COST Actions and COST activities. Among these measures, participation and eligibility of COST Action participants affiliated to a legal entity established in Belarus are suspended for all COST Actions and COST activities.
**This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
***This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.
****As of 6 May 2022 until further notice, measures are taken to suspend cooperation with Russia for the execution of the COST Actions and COST activities. Amongst these measures, participation and eligibility of COST Action participants affiliated to a legal entity established in Russia are suspended for all COST Actions and COST activities.
International Partner Countries
International Partner Countries are non-COST Member countries or Near Neighbour Countries.
COST Actions are open to global cooperation and welcome researchers from International Partner Countries to participate based on mutual benefit, subject to approval.
International Partner Countries can apply to become a COST Partner Member. Becoming a Partner Member allows the participants to be nominated to a COST Actions’ Management Committee, which are the decision-making bodies of an Action, as observers. It also enables them to join Action working groups. Partner Members commit to provide funding to reimburse their own researchers involved in COST activities. Currently South Africa is a COST Partner Member.
Development of non-COST country participation based on number of participating institutions in COST Actions
2014 – 2021
COST Actions build trust and provide a low-risk and secure way to create a fertile breeding ground for the development of much-needed new ideas, approaches and solutions. The cooperation and collaboration established within COST Actions, as well as the multi stakeholder and multilateral approach, help to reduce silos, build communities and mean that COST Actions are living labs of science diplomacy.
One area that COST has focused on is science diplomacy: creating a role for science in informing and facilitating global policy, diplomacy, and international relations. Science diplomacy has been identified as an important tool in solving global challenges through collaboration, as well as being key to increase the European Union’s global projection in science and technology.
The distinctive features of COST Actions, openness (new partners can join any time during the lifetime of the Action) and inclusiveness (partners from all relevant fields and backgrounds can join), have considerable potential to feed discussions and enhance existing Science Diplomacy practice.
The 2020 COST Global networking survey (completed by active COST Action participants from non-COST countries) highlighted the following strengths of participation in the programme:
- access and engagement in activities and bringing otherwise silent voices into the conversation,
- trust-building towards non-European countries,
- allowing the sharing of critical information to advance science,
- allowing scientists from countries with potentially different political agendas to collaborate,
- improving relationships with North African countries,
- allowing the study of difficult topics such as that of Islamic legacy and being able to overcome differences between Muslims and Christians.
Several COST networks have topics that fit with, and contribute to, COST’s efforts to promote science diplomacy. These include networks with strong regional relevance, those addressing global challenges, or those focusing on academic aspects of foreign affairs.
In 2021 the COST Association organised a dedicated training for COST Action Chairs on Science Diplomacy.
How to join a COST Action?
Researchers who are affiliated to institutions from non-COST countries can: