“The Gold Standard: Exploring the added value of the Dutch knowledge platforms”
The Dutch Knowledge Platforms are said to ‘have gold in their hands’. A recently launched learning review provides insight into the achievements and added value of the five Knowledge Platforms since their kick-off three years ago.
While the Knowledge Platforms are diverse in their organization and strategy, the reviewers identify common “gems”. These include the multi-stakeholder approach that lies at the core of their institutional strategy. The Platforms do not operate in a vacuum, they are positioned in a context of diverse actors (ministries, NGOs, research institutes, consultancies, businesses, etc.). This shows that their approach is not installed to fulfil only the needs of the Dutch government, but a meaningful way to take stock of multiple perspectives in order to achieve a greater good. Other achievements mentioned in the learning review are the convening power of the Platforms, and their unique ability to address emerging and contested issues.
According to the review, the Platforms also offer an opportunity to move towards more institutionalized knowledge relations. Before the Platforms existed, specific gaps in knowledge creation, exchange and use in the Dutch development sector were identified. These included a lack of focus and coherence in research programming, weak relations between different stakeholders, and fragmented use of knowledge by ministries and other practitioners. The Platforms have so far been most successful in knowledge creation and exchange, while knowledge use is still the hardest nut to crack. But the foundations are in place to get ‘knowledge to work’ for the stakeholders involved.
The Platforms were established following the Kennisbrief that was sent to Parliament in 2011 by the then Dutch State Secretary for Development Cooperation, Mr Ben Knapen. The Platforms have been structured around five strategic themes for development cooperation: food and nutrition security; sexual and reproductive health and rights; security and rule of law; water for development; and inclusive development policies.
Internationally, the Dutch approach to knowledge brokering is well-received. International stakeholders have increasingly expressed interest to learn more about the added value of such an innovative approach to the development sector.