Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about the Dutch Knowledge Platforms and the knowledge policy initiated by the Ministery of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

  • What is the aim of the knowledge platforms?


  • The knowledge platforms were set up in 2011 on the initiative of former state secretary for foreign affairs Ben Knapen. The aim of the platforms is to deepen knowledge relating to development and to make the conduct of research more strategic and less fragmented. Research and the exchange of knowledge through the platforms support policy implementation and help make Dutch developments efforts more effective. They also aim to promote self-sufficiency and development in developing countries.

  • What do the knowledge platforms do?


  • There are five knowledge platforms, four of which are concerned with the main themes of Dutch policy on international cooperation, namely food security, water, security and the rule of law, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. The fifth platform is concerned with how economic growth in Africa can be made more inclusive and sustainable.

    The participants in a platform identify research questions relating to the theme of the platform, draw up a joint research agenda, map the available knowledge and ensure that the knowledge is used. The research is contracted out through the national research council NWO/WOTRO. Lastly the platforms feed the results of research and the knowledge gathered back to policy-makers and to practitioners involved in aid, trade and investment.

  • How are the platforms structured?


  • On the knowledge platforms, researchers from the Netherlands and developing countries work together with companies, NGOs and the government from the start. Each platform has a small steering group of platform members, which ensures that the platform performs its roles and tasks as mutually agreed. The success of the platform and the funding of the research are the responsibility of all participants. All platforms build up a virtual network to disseminate knowledge and identify research questions. Each one has a secretariat that is located outside the ministry. The secretariats are responsible for the daily activities of the platforms and act as the first point of contact.

  • Can I participate in a platform?


  • The platforms are open, independent, often virtual, groups with variable membership. All parties, preferably organized in a network or a community of practice with knowledge of and/or questions about the platform’s themes, are welcome to take part. Examples are government agencies, civil society organizations, research institutes and companies of all sizes in and outside the Netherlands. It is the explicit intention that partners from developing countries take part in the platforms. If you have any questions, you can contact the secretariat of the platform concerned.

  • What is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the embassies?


  • The ministry took the initiative to set up the knowledge platforms and is responsible for funding and coordinating them. Each of the five platforms has a facilitator within the ministry who is responsible for the theme concerned. The facilitators ensure continual coordination between the steering groups, the platform secretariats and NWO/WOTRO. The aim is for the knowledge platforms to become independently operating networks in which the Dutch government is only one of the partners. The embassies can play a role in bringing together relevant actors, including NGOs, companies and knowledge institutes.

  • What do the knowledge platforms do in practice?


  • All the knowledge platforms have initiated activities. They have different structures and working methods. Some of the platforms focus primarily on virtual communication, while others lay the emphasis on physical exchange of knowledge. Some have already issued calls for proposals, others are still developing their knowledge and research agenda.

  • What happens to the results of research and kn