Science for Policy and Science Diplomacy Workshops for COST Actions


How should researchers engage with policy makers? Where and how to share COST Action results? How can COST Actions create policy impact? These are some of the key questions that were addressed during the ‘Science for Policy’ workshop, held on 27 June 2023 at the COST premises in Brussels. The workshop was followed by a Science Diplomacy training the day after. 

An enthusiastic group of COST Action participants, all of whom started their activities in the autumn 2022, joined this workshop series to learn more about how they could (better) achieve policy impact with their COST Actions.

Science for Policy (S4P) workshop: 27 June 2023   

The S4P workshop is a logical follow-up of previous policy-related initiatives. It focuses on COST Actions that want to share their research results in order to achieve greater policy impact and helps improve their skills on how to communicate effectively with policymakers. 

A group of 25 researchers at a workshop

Judith Litjens, COST Policy Officer, introduced the workshop by presenting COST’s S4P activities. Starting with an overview of the ‘Actions to Actions’ policy brief, a practical guide by and for COST Actions on how to achieve policy impact. Published in 2021 ‘Actions to Actions’ was the first ever COST policy brief based on the information, recommendation, tips and good practices that were shared by Chairs and Vice Chairs of ended COST Actions that had demonstrated significant policy impact. COST also recently launched a S4P web page, and participants were informed about the COST S4P community on Basecamp, which they will all be invited to join. 

S4P expert Lene Topp introduced the participants to the JRC Competence frameworks for policymakers and researchers, outlining a wide array of science for policy skills through collective competences researchers could use to assess their approach.  

Science for Change expert Gemma Rodríguez then invited participants to enter into a discussion about how to achieve meaningful impact. During a card game, participants discussed amongst themselves which of the statements on different cards they agree or disagree with, after which the discussions were put in a science for policy context. 

The training sessions were followed by a presentation on the European Commission ‘Science for policy’ Staff Working Document (SWD): ‘Supporting and connecting policymaking in the Member States with scientific research’. This initiative includes a comprehensive overview of existing S4P mechanisms across the EU, a shared EC vision on S4P, and an explanation of how S4P fits in the new European Research Area. Policy Analyst Kristian Krieger from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) presented the SWD key objectives and explained how COST Action participants can engage with and benefit from existing S4P initiatives outlined in the SWD. 

Dr Sara Basart, Chair of COST Action International Network to Encourage the Use of Monitoring and Forecasting Dust Products (InDust), and Dr Wolf von Klitzing, Chair of the Quantum Technologies  
with Ultra-Cold Atoms’ (AtomQTech) COST Action, were also invited to share their experience, hints and tips on ways in which their COST Actions have achieved extensive policy impact. Prof. Marie Ruiz, Chair of the Women on the Move (WEMov) COST Action, delivered a video message in which she addressed similar questions. 

The presentations and training sessions were complemented by a couple of break-out sessions, during which participants had the opportunity to discuss the requirements of establishing a successful ‘stakeholder engagement’ strategy for their Action. 

Science Diplomacy training: 28 June 2023 

This training was organised to give COST Action leaders an insight in the concept of science diplomacy and allow them to see how it can be taken up and used for the benefit of their Actions. 

The training was held by representatives of three members of the EU Science Diplomacy Alliance, namely DLR – Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, ZSI-Zentrum für Sociale Innovation, and the Marie Curie Alumni Association  

The opening icebreaker showed that participants were already very strongly engaged in international cooperation within and beyond Europe but less informed about the interpretation of science diplomacy.  

Following the introductory presentation on the definition, instruments, and stakeholders of science diplomacy, participants identified different measures that would serve the objectives of science diplomacy in the course of their COST Action. They listed, among others, the channels towards the national decision making level offered by the institutions involved in their Actions as well as the national contact points. Databases, Open Access, and standardisation were also named as perfect tools to get engaged with and contribute to science diplomacy. The open character of COST Actions, that enables partners that would normally not work together to find a common platform in the COST networks, was included. 

Participants listened to a presentation about Science Diplomacy 2.0: collaboration with non-likeminded countries – the case of China and COST country approach, based on the research carried out by ZSI.

Those present had the opportunity to name different opportunities and risks for COST Actions in approaching science diplomacy. They mentioned literacy (from languages to science), education, policymaking in the right context, and taking into account the context as well as knowledge sharing and personal relations as opportunities. The risks they mentioned included ethics and integrity, the possible divergence between EU agenda and national attitudes, the influence by those financing the research, and cultural differences.  

The training was concluded with a feedback session that clearly showed the interest in the topic and allowed for an exchange of Action specific comments.

COST is a wonderful example of science diplomacy

Fernanda Rollo, Chair of COST Action SHIFT

Additional information