Science for Peace and Security Programme
The Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme promotes dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO member states and partner nations based on scientific research, technological innovation and knowledge exchange. The SPS Programme offers funding, expert advice and support to tailor-made, security-relevant activities that respond to NATO’s strategic objectives.
- The SPS Programme enhances practical, result-oriented cooperation involving scientists, experts and government officials from NATO member and partner countries alike.
- It responds and adapts to the changing security environment in order to support NATO’s strategic objectives and political priorities in its relations with partners.
- The SPS Programme makes contributions to NATO’s efforts to project stability and build defence capacity in partner countries.
- SPS activities are guided by key priorities that address security challenges such as counter-terrorism and cyber defence, develop innovative security-related technologies, provide support to NATO-led missions and operations, and consider human and social aspects of security.
- Over the past five years, the Programme has initiated more than 450 collaborative activities among its member states and partner countries ranging from cyber defence in Jordan to humanitarian demining in Ukraine.
More background information
The SPS Programme promotes security-related practical cooperation based on scientific research, innovation and knowledge exchange within NATO’s wide network of partner countries.
It connects scientists, experts and officials from Allied and partner countries to address security challenges, such as cyber defence, counter-terrorism or defence against CBRN agents; to support NATO-led missions and operations; to foster the development of security-related advanced technologies such as sensors and detectors, nanotechnologies, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and to address human and social aspects of security such as the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325).
In this regard, the SPS Programme greatly benefits from the expertise of other NATO agencies, divisions and delegations, and bodies such as centres of excellence.
The Programme provides the Alliance with a unique channel for non-military communication, including in situations or regions where other forms of dialogue are difficult to establish. It enables NATO to become actively involved in such regions, often serving as the first concrete link between NATO and a new partner.
The SPS Programme has evolved continuously since its foundation in 1958. To this end, a comprehensive reorientation of the Programme took place in 2013, which gave SPS a renewed focus on larger-scale strategic activities beyond purely scientific cooperation.
Funded by NATO’s civil budget, the SPS Programme supports collaboration through four established grant mechanisms: Multi-Year Research Projects, Advanced Research Workshops, Advanced Training Courses and Advanced Study Institutes. Interested applicants should develop proposals for activities that fit within one of these formats. Moreover, all activities funded within the framework of the SPS Programme must follow the rules and regulations outlined in the SPS Programme Management Handbooks.
To that end, interested parties submit an application for funding that must be led by project directors from at least one NATO Ally and one partner country. Any application must also directly address at least one of the SPS key priorities and have a clear link to security. Once an application has been received by the SPS Programme it will undergo a comprehensive evaluation and peer review process, taking into account expert, scientific and political guidance.
This process ensures that all SPS applications approved for funding have been thoroughly evaluated for their scientific merit and security impact by NATO experts, independent scientists and NATO nations themselves.
SPS flagship projects contribute to several of NATO’s key partnership initiatives and priorities and have been reflected as deliverables in various NATO Summit documents.
Defence and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) Initiative
The DCB Initiative was launched at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales in order to reinforce NATO’s commitment to partners by providing support to nations requesting defence capacity assistance from NATO. The SPS Programme is currently supporting the DCB packages for Iraq, Jordan and the Republic of Moldova.
- In Iraq, security forces were trained in the area of Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) and were provided with related specialist equipment. Iraq’s C-IED operations support humanitarian efforts to return displaced populations safely to their homes. Furthermore, an advanced level, hands-on cyber defence training course was organised for Iraqi system/network administrators to directly respond to requirements of the Iraqi authorities.
- In Jordan, the SPS Programme supported the development of a national cyber defence strategy. It thereby significantly enhanced Jordan’s cyber defence posture and established a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF). SPS further supported the JAF in the domain of C-IED through tailor-made training courses that have been designed and implemented in collaboration with the NATO C-IED Centre of Excellence in Spain.
- In the Republic of Moldova, an SPS multi-year project established a cyber defence laboratory to serve as a training centre for civil servants of the defence and security relevant institutions. System and network administrators of the Moldovan Ministry of Defence also received a comprehensive cyber defence training. Furthermore, a multi-year project launched in 2016 is supporting the Moldovan government and civil society actors in creating a multi-agency national strategy to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
Projecting stability in NATO’s neighbourhood through practical cooperation
At the 2016 Warsaw Summit, NATO leaders emphasised their commitment to contributing more to the efforts of the international community in projecting stability and strengthening security beyond NATO borders. Through dialogue and practical cooperation with partner nations, the SPS Programme actively contributes to these efforts. It thereby assumes a balanced and flexible 360-degree approach to help address the security challenges to the east and south of the Alliance, including terrorism.
- Enhanced explosive remnants of war (ERW) detection and access capability in Egypt
This project, launched in 2014, provides Egypt with an enhanced operational detection and clearance capability for ERW. Provision of this capability will enhance the safety of Egyptian deminers, reducing the number of casualties from ERW clearance and improving their individual confidence and credibility. This will have an immediate effect on the safety and security of the local population, lowering the threat from ERW and releasing land for economic development.
- Next Generation Incident Command System in the Western Balkans
This flagship project, supported by the SPS Programme and the US Department of Homeland Security, Science & Technology Department, is developing and implementing a system to facilitate the coordination among first responders and improve civil emergency management across the Western Balkans. The new technology will allow responders to share all kinds of information about an incident, including the GPS location or images, via mobile devices. This will maximise real-time situational awareness and help find a coordinated, appropriate response to natural or man-made disasters.
- CBRN first responders live agent training
The overarching goal of this live agent train-the-trainer course hosted by the Joint CBRN Defence Centre of Excellence (JCBRN CoE) in Vyškov, Czech Republic, was to enable 17 first responders from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia to survey, monitor and manage the consequences of a CBRN incident. Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reinforced the JCBRN CoE and provided instructor support. The training was designed to assist the partner nations to improve their civil emergency plans, complement national training systems and improve cooperation between first responders.
Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine
At their meeting in Warsaw on 9 July 2016, the Heads of State and Government of the NATO-Ukraine Commission endorsed the CAP for Ukraine. The objective of the Package is to consolidate and enhance NATO’s assistance for Ukraine in order to make the country’s defence and security institutions more effective, efficient and accountable. As part of the CAP, the SPS Programme implemented several activities in Ukraine’s priority areas of cooperation.
- A multinational telemedicine system enables medical specialists to engage in major disasters or incidents across national borders. Portable medical kits allow first responders at the scene to connect to the system to receive expert advice from medical specialists in case of an emergency, even in remote areas. Through the use of modern communications technologies, an international network of medical specialists is able to assess patients, diagnose them and provide real-time recommendations. This allows the right aid and care to reach those who need it most quickly, with the potential to save many lives.
- Another SPS project to support humanitarian demining in Ukraine enhanced the capacity of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) in undertaking demining operations in the eastern part of the country. The overall aim was to safeguard the civilian population within areas affected by the conflict and allow the return of displaced persons. The project will be complemented by a multi-year initiative to develop an innovative 3D landmine detection radar.