Call for funding proposals: Transformations to Sustainability

Over €13 million available for social science-led research on transformations to sustainability. 

Outline Proposals are invited by 5 April 2017. 

The full call for proposals and associated documentation is available on the NORFACE website.

Climate change, environmental degradation and resource pressures have created unprecedented situations for societies worldwide. What’s more, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are likely to be disproportionally affected. The slow progress on the many pressing challenges of global environmental change and global development has led to increasing emphasis, both in research and policy, on the need to go beyond the study and encouragement of incremental change.

There is a need for more fundamental transformations in the way societies interact with each other and with the natural environment. What’s needed is a comprehensive and concerted research initiative that can boost research on transformations to sustainability, and catalyse new kinds of solutions to environmental and social challenges.

The Belmont Forum, NORFACE and the ISSC together as the Transformations to Sustainability funders, are therefore launching the new funding programme “Transformations to Sustainability” (T2S).

This programme will contribute to re-structuring the broad field of sustainability research by placing social science, as well as the humanities, at the heart of interdisciplinary research in a step-change in scale and scope for research programming on this topic. Co-production of knowledge and research problem formulation is considered to be critical to the process of societal transformation. Therefore, proposal applicants are strongly encouraged to include stakeholder or community-based partners in their projects.

It is important that projects in this research programme be led by a Main Applicant from social sciences/humanities (SSH) and primarily predicated not on the development and demonstration of technological innovation, but rather on enhancing our understanding of societal aspects of transformation in relation to sustainability. At the same time, the concrete challenges around which the needs of and opportunities for societal transformations to sustainability are researched can also provide innovative approaches that will reinvigorate social science analysis. To study the challenges targeted in this call, both inter- and transdisciplinary approaches that enable researchers to address the interconnections and interdependencies between natural and human systems, as well as between science and society, are needed. Applicants are therefore strongly encouraged to include in their research teams relevant expertise from other fields of science, including the natural sciences, and to engage societal stakeholders, including community-based partners, in formulating research problems and co-developing and co-implementing knowledge on transformations. In addition, applications are strongly encouraged to build effective research partnerships with regions of the world where knowledge and expertise relevant to sustainability challenges have thus far been under exploited.

This programme has two major objectives:

The programme is structured around three themes, described in detail in the full call for proposals. Every research project should focus on at least one of these themes.

Thematic areas:

Proposals on the above described specific research themes may also include one or both of the following cross-cutting issues, also described in detail in the accompanying documentation.

Cross-cutting issues:

The themes and the cross-cutting issues for the programme have been prepared by an international, multi-disciplinary Theme Expert Group.

Applicants should always consider whether diversity perspectives (such as gender and ethnic background) are relevant to the research questions the project will examine. If this is the case, these perspectives and the way they will be treated in the project must be described in the application.

The funding available for this T2S programme over a period of three years has been set at a minimum of 13 M€ across the international funding partners.


October 2016 - Pre-announcement of the programme
January 2017 - Launch of the programme and publication of the Call documents
5 April 2017, 17.00 Eastern Standard Time - Deadline submission Outline Proposals
March - June 2017 - Evaluation of Outline Proposals
June 2017 - Applicants will be informed about the decision on Outline Proposals
26 September 2021 - Deadline submission Full Proposals
October - December 2017 - Peer-review of Full Proposals
January 2018 - Rebuttal by applicants
February 2018 - Panel meeting to evaluate Full Proposals
March  2018 - National decision-making procedures
April 2018 - Applicants will be informed about the decision on Full Proposals

The full call for proposals and associated documentation is available on the NORFACE website.