Pre-announcement: Collaborative Research Action – Pathways to Sustainability

The Belmont Forum is pleased to announce the planned launch of the joint Collaborative Research Action (CRA) on the theme of Pathways for Sustainability.


The upcoming stage one call is planned to launch in June 2020 with a closing date in October 2020 [indicative schedule].

The goal of this CRA is to produce the necessary knowledge and propose options to help underpin sustainable development within a stable Earth System.  Today, there are many efforts designed to promote sustainability across many sectors and scales, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unanimously adopted by all member states of the United Nations in September 2015 (UN GA 2015).  To be effective, these efforts require knowledge from the broad range of economic, social, and environmental dimensions associated with sustainable development and specific targets for implementation of these ambitious goals.  The targets and potential pathways must account for critical drivers of human capacity, demographic changes, opportunities for technological innovation and diffusion, sound institutions and transformative governance capabilities, sustainable diets, and other critical socio-economic developments.

The Belmont Forum and its partners recognize that we currently lack a truly integrated, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative understanding of sustainable development pathways that account for the inter-linkages between the economy, technology, institutions, environment, climate, biodiversity and human development and that are anchored within the constraints of a sustainable Earth system.  To help provide a science base for achieving sustainability goals, the Belmont Forum and partners are supporting a three-stage program for proposals that focuses on integrated qualitative and quantitative approaches to develop Earth-system-based transformation pathways for sustainable development taking as a basis the four “life-supporting SDGs”: 6-Clean water and sanitation, 13-Climate action, 14-Life below water and 15-life on land. The initiative also invites its participants to consider all important interactions with the other sustainable development goals. Projects are free to prioritize the interactions, which are to be explored, based on their own expertise of the context.


The first cycle of funding for this CRA will be directed towards designing cross-cutting activities and competitive seed grants to build the community, mobilize capacity, bring together existing focused projects, develop networks focused on stakeholder mapping, engagement of stakeholders, and evaluation of existing efforts. The aim is to build communities to be in a position of developing integrative sustainability pathways responding to society needs. This new “metaframework” should aim to ensure that projects become complementary contributions as part of a geography- or issue-based transformative systems. There is an explicit need to increase the ability to communicate in the same language across expertise and to increase literacy in spheres of collaboration and transformation (e.g. natural and social sciences, researchers and stakeholders).

Stage 1 of the CRA will support new forms of collaboration across different sectors (public, private, civil society) and across expertise. Projects will build on recent advancements in Earth system governance, social, economic and technological advances and Earth system science (e.g., energy, food, population, education, macroeconomics, biodiversity, and climate) as well as existing global, regional and/or local assessments, roadmaps and analytical scenarios relevant to the proposed pathways.  In the coming years, future stages will expand research on interlinkages.

Eligibility criteria

Development of research consortia supported financially by at least three participating partner agencies established in three different countries is a key criterion. Researchers from countries not represented by any of the partner agencies can participate in the research project at their own expense.

Transdisciplinarity of the research consortia and the active engagement of involved stakeholders in the research and innovation contents is a key criterion and should be clearly demonstrated in the application. Given the complexity and scope of the challenges, research consortia must be truly transdisciplinary, including academic researchers from: a) social sciences/humanities and b) natural sciences/technology and c) stakeholders using a co-design, co-development and co-implementation approach.

This initial Stage 1 call aims to support activities spanning no more than 2 years.

We invite you to regularly consult the Belmont Forum website, on which information on the call will be updated. We anticipate this call opening in mid-June.  All call documents and the submission portal will be posted on the Belmont Forum Grant Operations website: