Twelve transnational projects receive 11.5 million euros for research on transformations to sustainability


Twelve transnational research projects starting in 2018 have been awarded 11.5 million euros from the Belmont Forum and NORFACE joint programme Transformations to Sustainability (T2S). The twelve teams with 56 principal investigators will undertake research in transformations to sustainability areas ranging from groundwater, mining, urban areas and land-registration, to the role of migration and intellectual property rights in sustainability transitions. The projects involve researchers from a wide variety of disciplines working together across the globe, from Brazil to Sweden and from Japan to Burkina Faso.

Innovative research with an impact

The Belmont Forum, a global partnership that mobilizes funding of environmental change research, and NORFACE, an European research network for the social sciences, jointly developed the research programme Transformations to Sustainability (T2S). The programme aims to restructure 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.

The twelve three-year projects will conduct theoretically and methodologically innovative research on transformations to sustainability in different locations experiencing pressing socio-ecological challenges. The knowledge produced by the projects will be of relevance to researchers, practitioners and policymakers across a multitude of sectors and will contribute to advancing transformative change around the globe. To enhance the relevance of the knowledge being produced, the project teams will integrate stakeholder and community-based partners in the research process.

The following Belmont Forum and NORFACE member countries provide funding to the twelve projects: Belgium, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, the International Social Science Council (ISSC), with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), funds the participation of researchers from six low and lower-middle income countries – namely Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, India, Nicaragua and Tanzania. The European Commission provides top-up funding to T2S.

Research programme Transformations to Sustainability

Climate change, environmental degradation and resource pressures have created unprecedented situations for societies worldwide. Consequently, there is growing attention to the need for fundamental transformations in the way societies interact with each other and with the natural environment as the basis of sustainability. The objectives of the Belmont Forum and NORFACE research programme Transformations to Sustainability are to develop understanding of and promote research on transformations to sustainability which are of significant social, economic and policy concern throughout the world and of great relevance to both academics and stakeholders, and to build capacity, overcome fragmentation and have a lasting impact on both society and the research landscape by cultivating durable research collaboration across multiple borders, disciplinary boundaries, and with practitioners and societal partners. The programme builds on and expands the Transformations to Sustainability programme of the ISSC launched in 2014.

An overview of the funded projects is provided below. Please note that the names of the Principal Investigators from Brazil, Japan and the United States will be publicly announced later due to national funding regulations. More information on these projects can be found on the Transformations to Sustainability web page.

AGENTS: Amazonian Governance to Enable Transformations to Sustainability – Name Project Leader from the United States t.b.a., Dr. F. De Castro, University of Amsterdam, , Dr. C. Salk, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. M. Tengö, Stockholm University, name Principal Investigator from Brazil t.b.a., name Principal Investigator from the United States t.b.a.

CON-VIVA: Towards Convivial Conservation: Governing Human-Wildlife Interactions in the Anthropocene – Prof. B. Büscher, Wageningen University, Prof. D. Brockington, University of Sheffield, Prof. A. Nygren, University of Helsinki, , MSc. M. Bukhi, University of Dodoma, name Principal Investigator from Brazil t.b.a, name Principal Investigator from the United States t.b.a.

GoST: Governance of Sociotechnical Transformations – Dr. S. Beck, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Prof. A. Stirling, University of Sussex, name Principal Investigator from the United States t.b.a.

H2O — T2S: H2O — T2S in Urban Fringe Areas – Dr. S. Sen, South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies, Dr. C. Butsch, University of Cologne, Dr. L. Hermans, Delft University of Technology.

IPACST: The Role of Intellectual Property to Accelerate Sustainability Transitions – Prof. C. Dreher, Freie University Berlin, Dr. A. Gurtoo, Indian Institute of Science, Prof. N. Bocken, Lund University, Dr. F. Tietze, University of Cambridge.

Misty: Migration, Transformation and Sustainability – Prof. N. Adger, University of Exeter, Prof. F. Gemenne, University of Liege, Prof. E. Boyd, Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies, Prof. S. Codjoe, Regional Institute for Population Studies, Dr. S. Fransen, University of Amsterdam, name Principal Investigator from the United States t.b.a.

SecTenSusPeace: SECURING TENURE, SUSTAINABLE PEACE? The challenges of localizing land-registration in conflict-affected Burundi and eastern DR Congo – Dr. M. van Leeuwen, Radboud University Nijmegen, Dr. G. van der Haar, Wageningen University, Dr. A. Ansoms, Catholic University of Leuven, Prof. S. Mugangu, Institut Supérieur de Développement Rural de Bukavu.

ST-ASGM: Sustainability Transformations in Artisanal and Small-scale Gold Mining: A Multi-Actor and Trans-Regional Perspective – Dr. E. Fisher, University of Reading, Dr. S. Luning, Leiden University, Dr. M. de Theije, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Prof. M. Schnegg, University of Hamburg, Dr. C. Lanzano, Nordic Africa Institute, Dr. P. Hochet, Insuco Foundation for Social Science Research, name Principal Investigator from Brazil t.b.a.

T2SGS: Transformations to Groundwater Sustainability: joint learnings from human-groundwater interactions – Prof. M. Zwarteen, University of Amsterdam, Prof. F. Cleaver, University of Sheffield, Dr. M. Kuper, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, Dr. L. Börjeson, Stockholm University, MA. S. Kulkarni, Society for Promoting Participative Eco-system management, name Principal Investigator from the United States t.b.a.

TAPESTRY: Transformation as Praxis: Exploring Socially Just and Transdisciplinary Pathways to Sustainability in Marginal Environments – Prof. L. Mehta, Institute of Development Studies, Dr. S. Movik, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Prof. D. Parthasarathy, Indian Institute of Technology, name Principal Investigator from Japan t.b.a.

TRUEPATH: TRansforming UnsustainablE PATHways in agricultural frontiers: articulating microfinance plus with local institutional change for sustainability in Nicaragua – Prof. J. Bastiaensen, University of Antwerp, Dr. S. Flores, Universidad Centroamericana, Dr. N. Garambois, Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Waterproofing Data: Engaging stakeholders in sustainable flood risk governance for urban resilience – Dr. J. Porto de Albuquerque, University of Warwick, Prof. A. Zipf, Heidelberg University, name Principal Investigator from Brazil t.b.a.

About the Belmont Forum

Established in 2009, the Belmont Forum is a partnership of funding organizations, international science councils, and regional consortia committed to the advancement of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science. Forum operations are guided by the Belmont Challenge, a vision document that encourages international transdisciplinary research providing knowledge for understanding, mitigating and adapting to global environmental change. Forum members and partner organizations work collaboratively to meet this Challenge by issuing international calls for proposals, committing to best practices for open data access, and providing transdisciplinary training. Belmont Forum website: http://www.belmontforum.org/.


Since 2004, the NORFACE Network has proved itself as a successful coordinated common action of currently nineteen national research funding agencies. NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) has offered unique opportunities for researchers in the social sciences by developing common research funding instruments, thus creating opportunities for facilitating and building new networks of research collaboration in the social sciences. Since its inception in 2004, NORFACE has organised five transnational research programmes. Next to large transnational research programmes, NORFACE promotes cooperation through seminar series, workshops and knowledge exchange activities. NORFACE website: https://www.norface.net/.