Community puts heads together on Sustainable Development Goals

29 September 2017

NERC's Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) community engagement workshop brought experts together to explore the role of UK environmental science in meeting the global Sustainable Development Goals.

People taking part in GCRF workshop

[Left to right] Dr Yaso Kunaratnam (UK Collaborative on Development Sciences), Dr Jon Hillier (University of Aberdeen), Dr Tanya O’Garra (Middlesex University) and Dr Phil Williamson (NERC and University of East Anglia) taking part in an elevator pitch session

The two-day workshop in London gave researchers, collaborators and end-users the opportunity to discover, discuss and share ideas for the second collective GCRF fund call: Interdisciplinary Research Hubs to Address Intractable Development Challenges Faced by Developing Countries. GCRF is a UK government fund to support research addressing significant problems or development challenges, directly contributing to the sustainable and inclusive prosperity of people in developing countries.

The successful event facilitated links between academics, international development practitioners and end users across a range of disciplines. Speakers from the UK and around the globe covered a variety of topics such as equitable partnerships, meeting challenges from international, business and interdisciplinary perspectives, and the development and delivery of a research hub.

Professor Stuart Taberner, Director of International & Interdisciplinary Research for Research Councils UK (RCUK), said:

Bringing people together from across the community provided a valuable opportunity to share experience and best practice in Official Development Assistance research, building the foundations for strong partnerships and world-class interdisciplinary research programmes. The event helped facilitate the formation of interdisciplinary networks to address development challenges where advances in environmental science have a key role to play in tackling the sustainable development goals.

Senior academics from four NERC research centres chaired half-day workshops. Day one saw Professor John Remedios, Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation, chair a session on the new GCRF call, and Professor Angela Hatton, Director of Research & Innovation at the National Oceanography Centre, chair a session on international perspectives.

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, opened the second day with a session on interdisciplinary perspectives, and Professor Stephen Mobbs, Director of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, led a session on official development assistance, impact and due diligence. Around 45 academics gave elevator pitches on their areas of expertise, ranging from how to boost economic development without polluting the air we breathe to developing early warning systems for weather disasters in the poorest countries.

The Interdisciplinary Research Hubs to Address Intractable Challenges Faced by Developing Countries call - external link - is now inviting project outlines to be submitted by 7 November 2017.

Further information

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Mary Goodchild
NERC News & Media Officer
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1. GCRF supports cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the global issues faced by developing countries. It harnesses the expertise of the UK's world-leading researchers, focusing on: funding challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange; and providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research or on-the-ground need. It is a £1·5 billion fund which forms part of the UK government's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) , and delivered through 17 delivery partners including the research councils, the UK academies, the UK Space Agency and funding bodies.

2. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body. We receive around £330 million of annual funding from BEIS.