Edith van Ewijk

Postdoc researcher knowledge co-creation in food and business learning platforms, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Partnerships for the goals, sustainable development goal (SDG) 17, is crucial in achieving all other SDGs. In order to address the complex societal and sustainable challenges captured in the SDGs, several actors needs to be engaged and collaborate.  Central in many of these partnerships is the exchange of knowledge. Many studies –  scientific, policy and evaluation – that focus on knowledge exchange and co-creation discuss the conditions of these knowledge exchange processes and the actual knowledge exchange taking place. Some studies also focus on the creation of new knowledge. There are also a lot of studies that discuss the many challenges most partnerships are facing. Exchanging knowledge and collaborating between actors with different backgrounds is not an easy task.

The body of knowledge that focuses on knowledge use, actual learning and  the application of lessons learnt – in other words  the impact of knowledge co-creation in partnerships –  is far more limited.

Doing research on knowledge use and learning is challenging, as it requires follow up on the moments were knowledge was exchanged in multi-stakeholder partnerships.  Moreover, the attribution question is hard to answer: what was learnt because of the knowledge exchange that occurred within a multi stakeholder partnership? Also the time dimension is challenging: what a person has learnt might not be applied immediately but at a later  moment  of time.

Many academic articles end with the words ‘we need more research’ on a specific topic. Working as a researcher, I am hesitant to just conclude that ‘we need more research’. There are already so many studies that deal with knowledge exchange in multi-stakeholder partnerships. I would however want to argue that we need to learn more on the use of knowledge. What have people really learnt, how did it change their perceptions, and what lessons did they apply? Have the lessons learnt contributed to achieving the SDGs? What are the main challenges? I hope to be able to make a small contribution in my own research that focuses on knowledge co-creation in food and business learning platforms, related to SDGs 2, 6 , 14 and 17.