Success Factors Of Eu Science Diplomacy Impact On Public Health In The Arab World


Science diplomacy is generally of three kinds: Diplomacy for Science, which is focused on the facilitation of international scientific collaboration; Science in Diplomacy where the scientists are prompted towards supporting foreign policy; and Science for Diplomacy where science is used as a tool for building relations between states (Van Langenhove, Tools for an EU Science Diplomacy, 2017).

It has been said that “good in science, just as in medicine, is integral to and finds its proper place in that overarching common good about which both scientists and citizens deliberate” (Mitcham & Frodeman, 2000). This is an important statement, which goes to show the essential relationship between science and social good. More often than not, scientific developments and technological innovations have social impacts. To a great extent, science aids the development of humanity.


Therefore, science diplomacy has important implications in how science and technology can be used to provide solutions to common human or social problems, and allow states to build constructive partnerships that are based on collaborative efforts in the area of science and technology. The most fundamental premise of science diplomacy is that there should be a link between science and the wider common good for science diplomacy to be useful or utilitarian (Colglazier, 2018). In context of science diplomacy between EU and Jordan, technology transfer and research and development programmes undertaken between the two partners should demonstrate a link to the wider common good of the populations in Jordan.

In the recent period of time, there has been an increase in collaborations between different countries in the area of science and technology. Examples of such collaborations can be seen in the European collaborations with Middle eastern nations, under which scientific and technology based programmes have been implemented in the Middle East. Jordan is selected as a case study in this article amongst the Middle eastern nations, because this allows the article to carry out an in-depth study of a single social phenomenon, that is, the impact of science diplomacy on the wider social good seen in the context of public health in Jordan (Schwandt & Gates, 2011).

This article focusses on programmes under science diplomacy implemented as per collaborations between Europe and the Kingdom of Jordan, and the impact assessment of such programmes. Impact assessments are useful because they assess the usefulness of the programmes in the contexts of their cycle, design, implementation and assessment, wherein the impact of the programmes is assessed as against the background of the benefits that these programmes provide to the population as a whole and in specific health sectors.

Impact assessment of programmes undertaken is done in social contexts to understand how these programmes aid in the achievement of development objectives of the countries and also how they are able to contribute to improved stability in the diplomatic relationships between the parties concerned. Such programmes also have potential spill-over of benefits into other sectors, such as, trade, communications, health. These benefits also form part of the social contexts against which the science diplomacy efforts can be assessed. Impact assessment of the programmes and all public policy is a common phenomenon in Europe (Von Schomberg, 2012). Impact assessment frameworks generally contain social, environmental and economic impacts of the policy or programmes (Von Schomberg, 2012).

In order to assess the impact of technology in Jordan in social contexts, this article uses the conceptual framework of Third-Stream Activities (Molas-Gallart, Salter, Patel, Scott, & Duran, 2002). This is based on the quantification of the common good, that is, actual social benefits. In this article, common goods are marketable and consumable products in public health contexts, including diagnostic tools, machines, devices and medicaments and services (Bornmann, 2013). This is the approach undertaken in this article so that clear quantifiable goods can be the basis for assessing the impact of the science diplomacy between EU and Jordan.

Science diplomacy in EU-Jordan context

Science diplomacy includes the research and development programmes undertaken in collaborations between different states. Collaborative programmes between EU and Jordan include such research and development programmes in the area of institutional capacity building, training, and support to education. Under these areas, European programmes such as, FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020 have been undertaken. Other programmes undertaken in collaboration between EU and Jordan include Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), Partnership Instrument (PI) as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, and contributions from the European Development Fund (EDF).

SESAME, which stands for Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East is one of the initiatives under the science diplomacy programme between EU and Jordan (Moedas, 2016). The EU was granted observer status at SESAME in 2015 and scientists from across the Middle east region are participating in this initiative. SESAME is a regional cooperative effort for science, which has been described as a major intergovernmental scientific facility (Turekian, et al., 2015). It may be noted that SESAME has far reaching impact in the sense that while Jordan is the host of the facility, the initiative is seeing participation by a number of countries in the Middle East and Mediterranean region (Turekian, et al., 2015).

SESAME seeks to “foster scientific and technological capacities and excellence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region and ‘build scientific links and foster better understanding and a culture of peace through scientific collaboration” (Turekian, et al., 2015, p. 14). These may seem like lofty objectives or goals; however, when broken down into the objective goals of SESAME, it may be argued that these goals combine scientific and diplomatic objectives. Diplomacy is at the core of SESAME, as noted by Smith (2012) who explained that the implementation and the very initiation of the project was based on the application of skilful diplomacy and international cooperation.

SESAME is modelled on the European Organisation of Nuclear Research, more popularly known as the CERN, which is one of the most respected scientific institutions in the world (Smith, 2012). It would be useful to note that both CERN and SESAME were established for both scientific and diplomatic purposes, as both allow member states to achieve scientific goals collectively so that financial and skill related challenges that individual states may not be able to respond to on their own, can be met more effectively in a collective manner (Smith, 2012). Both CERN and SESAME allow states to achieve scientific objectives through inter-state cooperation so that economic and skill resources can be pooled in by member states; the end result is the facilitation of world-class research in a diverse range of fields and building of scientific links and diplomatic links through collaboration on science (Smith, 2012).

The SESAME initiative is an example of Science for Democracy (Turekian, et al., 2015, p. 19). In this model of science diplomacy, science is used as a tool for building relations between states (Van Langenhove, Tools for an EU Science Diplomacy, 2017). It may also be noted that the SESAME initiative has seen involvement by countries that have seen tense relations for decades, such as, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Palestinian Authority. That the countries have been able to collaborate on SESAME, is an indication of the power of science diplomacy.

In 2012, the EU agreed to provide €5 million for SESAME under an agreement that allows CERN to lead and provide training for the SESAME staff (Smith, 2012). The EU has also entered into an agreement with Jordan in 2017 called the Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Union and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan setting out the terms and conditions for the participation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), as per which the terms and conditions for the participation of Jordan in PRIMA are laid down. PRIMA is supported by Horizon 2020, which is the EU's research and innovation framework programme (European Commission, 2017). Another project of collaboration between EU and Jordan is the BILAT project under which Jordan receives cooperation from the EU for the purpose of research and innovation, and training of researchers (European Commission, 2018).

The recent Agreement between the European Community and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Scientific and Technological Cooperation 2011, is particularly related to the development and facilitation of cooperative activities between the EC and Jordan in fields related to science and technology. The principles that guide this agreement include promotion of knowledge based society, mutual benefits to both sides, and reciprocal access to research programmes and projects of either party by the other. Article 2 of the Agreement between the European Community and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on Scientific and Technological Cooperation 2011 provides the means of cooperation between Jordan and the EC, including meetings, discussions, visits and exchange of research scholars, and contacts between projects and programmes.

The Bilat Jordan International collaboration projects include many projects that see a joint collaboration between Jordan and EC Member States, in the area of science and technology. The bilateral cooperation between Jordan and EC is supported through BILAT project, under EU-Jordannett. The Bilat project includes coaching and training of Focal Points and Jordanian Thematic NCPs. One of the objectives of the EU-Jordannet II is to develop 'mobility grant schemes' in the European projects so as to allow Jordanian researchers to spend some time at the European organisation. Another objective of the EU-Jordannet II is to organise partnership days in Europe with selected European NCPs and participants from Jordan (universities and SMEs). One of the support actions in this area is that of establishment of Cancer Biobank for Jordan and its Neighbouring Countries Through Knowledge Transfer & Training. Another support action is the development of Networks for Initial Training (ITN) New Archaeological Research Network for Integrating Approaches to Ancient Material Studies. Yet another useful and impactful collaborative project is Biowaste and Algae Knowledge for the Production of 2nd Generation Biofuels. This project is between Universita Degli Studi Di Roma La Sapienza Italy, Rigas Tehniska Universitate Latvia and the Hashemite University of Jordan.

The arrangements discussed in this section have seen the EU provide financial assistance under National Indicative Programmes, which has also been used to develop democracy, human rights, reforms and good governance in Jordan (Vaes, et al., 2015). This indicates at the link between science diplomacy and social good, which needs to be explored more in order to understand how science diplomacy in Jordan has led to social good and whether there are any marked effects on public health.

Assessing the impact of science diplomacy in Jordan: Conceptual framework of Third-Stream Activities

In the EU-Middle East Science Diplomacy context, essentially what is being introduced into the Middle East nations, is new technology from the EU. Technology Assessment framework can be used to assess the impact of the technology in social contexts (Von Schomberg, 2012). In order to assess the impact of technology in Jordan in social contexts, it is important to first quantify the common good, so that social benefits can be considered in terms of marketable and consumable products. In public health contexts, such quantifiable social goods include diagnostic tools, machines, devices and medicaments and services (Bornmann, 2013). This is the approach undertaken in this article so that clear quantifiable goods can be the basis for assessing the impact of the science diplomacy between EU and Jordan.

The conceptual framework of Third-Stream Activities is used to assess the impact of the technology or science research and development. Figure 1 below illustrates how this framework is used.

Third-Stream activities

As per the Third Stream Activities framework, the indicators that are used to assess the impact assessment are as per SMART metrics: “simple, measurable, actionable, relevant, reliable, and reproducible” (Molas-Gallart, Salter, Patel, Scott, & Duran, 2002). The activities on the left side of the table can be assessed by their indicators that are given in the form of Third-Stream Activities on the right side of the table in Figure 1.

Using the Third-Stream Activities indicators, the impact assessment of the Programmes involving technology and research and development can be assessed in the context of Jordan. In so far as certain technologies are transferred through EU programmes into Jordan, the effects of these technologies on the social good can be assessed using the Third-Stream Activities indicators.

The potential of EU science diplomacy leading to people well-being in Jordan

Science diplomacy in the EU has focused on the building of health initiatives in the countries with whom it has such diplomatic relations (Van Langenhove, 2017). As health initiatives are considered to have benefits for the world and not just a region, such initiatives are seen as particularly relevant to social goods that can be achieved through science diplomacy (Van Langenhove, 2016). Science diplomacy has been useful in many contexts, important amongst which are, HIV/AIDS in Africa through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Ebola and Zika viruses, “bird flu,” MERS, and “swine flu” through coordinated global responses (Colglazier, 2018). Due to the successes of collaborative work in such areas of public health, initiatives in the context of health diplomacy as a part of the wider science diplomacy have been advocated (Hotez, 2015). Within such health diplomacy, different initiatives have been developed, such as, vaccine science diplomacy, which is based on the premise that regional and global cooperation is needed to enhance the capacity to develop vaccines and a sustainable health system in the global sense (Hotez, 2015).

It may be noted that health diplomacy is also advocated on the basis of its potential to increase the social and individual indicators of well-being, which is linked to the subjective well-being of people as well as duty of the government to affect individual well-being (Frey & Stutzer, 2010). Health is one of the important factors in individual and social well-being (Stevenson & Wolfers, 2008). This is the reason why the United Nations developed Sustainable Development Goals, linking social, economic, and environmental goals with sustainable well-being (Costanza, et al., 2016).

Due to the particular benefits of science diplomacy in developing cooperative measures for health diplomacy, there is a growing demand for science diplomacy in the context of mobilising science and technology community to carry out research that responds to global problems and facilitates scientific and institutional nexus (Van Langenhove, 2016). It is argued that science diplomacy be used for the larger objective of global good and well-being, including health indicators.

Impact of policy cooperation in Jordan in the context of public health

The EU Jordannet II Final conference report of 2015 provides some insight into the impacts of the policy cooperation between the EC and Jordan. One of the areas where the report provides positive outlook is improvement in awareness events, brokerage & networking, support for researchers, and development of the mobility grant scheme. One of the areas of concern pointed out by the report is that the PRIMA initiative needs to take off in a sound way because there was a decline in the number of projects prior to 2007, and with PRIMA initiative there is a positive outlook for more projects with a higher funding.

The European and Mediterranean S&T cooperation is one of the more important areas of cooperation which also see the efforts being taken for the endeavours in research and development. It has been found that as a result of these endeavours, there is a facilitation of building of capacities of RTD Administrators on the administrative, legal and financial issues of FP7 and higher S&T awareness and cooperation for SMES in FP7 and coordination of ERA-WIDE projects. The cooperative development of an Observatory for S&T cooperation at the national level is one of the important achievements of this programme.

The Joint policy development process is involved in the cooperation development between EC and Jordan in Jordan. EC initiated this process with pilot projects, some of which led to large scale programmes, which further led on to the formulation of sector policy managed by Jordan and funded to some extent by EC sector budget support. The EC has managed to create large-scale and sustainable impacts, in the area of Small and Medium Enterprises and municipalities.

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One of the impacts of the Development programme in Jordan is seen in the period between 2002-2006, in that there was strategic management by the EC as well as formulation of new priorities, which was met by positive shifts in Jordan’s strategy. EC’s new priorities have been impactful in the area of poverty alleviation and human rights in Jordan. In the case of human rights, there was positive development on the gender-based rights.

Another impact of Development programme is with respect to trade liberalisation, in which development was less as compared to what was expected. However, an area where some positive development has happened is that of access to the European Union (EU) market free of tariffs and quotas. Moreover, the cooperation programme also led to the EC support for export-oriented industrial SMEs. In the area of trade, significant changes due to EC programme are seen in the reduction of State subsidies, increase in tax revenues, privatising of loss- making State companies, and strengthening of public finance management. Positive impacts have been seen in the areas of tax revenue, public debt, growth, and income poverty. Yet another positive impact of Development programme is the sustainable management of urban water networks. This is one of the important areas of change and development in Jordan. EC’s contribution in this area is with facilitation of privatisation of water supply and sanitation networks. Jordan had loss-making state-owned activities, including the water supply services. Since 1999, there has been a move towards the privatisation of water supply and sanitation networks by Jordan government in collaboration with the EC Development Programme. EC has managed to facilitate changes in this area of development. These changes point to the EC focus on public sector reforms that are related to macro-economic stability of Jordan.

One of the impacts of science diplomacy in the context of EU and Jordan collaboration can be seen in the fact more than 600 researchers have been trained as a part of this collaboration. The EU has mobilised significant resources to enable the facilitation of the programmes in coordination with Jordan. Since 2011, the EU has mobilised more than €2 billion in financial assistance to Jordan, out of which €800 million is for bilateral cooperation assistance. PRIMA, a new initiative, is aimed at strengthening partnership by focussing more on co-ownership and co-funding with the objectives of enhancement of knowledge and innovation potential for food security and water availability.

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