The Brazil country study on Knowledge Exchange -- completed in preparation for the High-Level Meeting "Towards Country-Led Knowledge Hubs" held in Bali last month -- focused on the South-South cooperation practices of two government-affiliated knowledge hubs: Fiocruz and Embrapa. Fiocruz (shorthand for the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) specializes in biomedical sciences and is widely considered one of the world's foremost public health research centers. Embrapa (the Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural and Livestock Research) carries out applied research in agriculture and biotechnology. Both institutions tap into areas in which Brazil has developed innovative technical and policy solutions; these areas are also, not by coincidence, priority topics for current Brazilian foreign policy.
Fiocruz and Embrapa have accumulated decades of experience with knowledge exchange, much of it carried out through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, in regions that have become priorities for the Brazilian government in its South-South cooperation policy: Latin America and Africa. These institutions’ projects abroad include research collaboration, capacity-building in partner countries, and the construction of international networks of research centers specializing in public health and agriculture.
While the analysis shows that individual knowlege hubs are capable of developing valuable practices in areas such as monitoring & evaluation, knowledge catalogues, and platforms for remote collaboration, both Fiocruz and Embrapa have faced a variety of challenges in implementing KE programs. Key lessons from their experiences include the following:
1. A solid national legal and administrative framework is needed to facilitate KE through the reduction of bureaucratic barriers and creation of channels for cooperation among national and international stakeholders, including expanded space for participation by non-state stakeholders such as NGOs and the private sector.
2. Implementing agencies that have divisions specializing in international cooperation and specialized personnel working with KE are able to identify and tap into the institution’s technical and policy innovations more effectively. Such divisions also facilitate the interaction with both national cooperation agency and other knowledge hubs abroad (partner institutions and international organizations).
3. A national cooperation agency should ideally possess a reasonable degree of institutional autonomy including an independent career track characterized by meritocratic assessment, built-in incentives for employees, and adequate funding for projects. These characteristics help to ensure the efficacy, efficiency and continuity of KE programs.
Adriana Erthal Abdenur email@example.com