Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa
In its fourth and penultimate year of implementation, the LIRA 2030 programme funded nine additional projects, expanding the LIRA community to 28 projects active in 22 countries across Africa.
In March 2019, 28 of the early-career researchers funded through the programme, along with members of the programme’s Scientific Advisory Committee and other leading scholars and practitioners on urban research, met in Dakar, Senegal, for the LIRA Annual Research Forum.
The Forum provided an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and for researchers to explore new connections and collaborations across projects, with the aim of expanding the impact of their research. The Forum was hosted by Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar in partnership with the Senegal Academy of Science and Technology. A public conference on ‘Science for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa’ allowed for direct engagement between the grantees and local scientists and policy-makers on the potential of science to support innovative thinking on urban futures in Africa, and in Senegal in particular.
With significant support from the Robert Bosch Foundation, the programme also delivered two capacity-building activities in Ghana, including training on the methods and ethics of transdisciplinary research, theories of change, strategies for knowledge integration, and publishing transdisciplinary academic work. These activities were hosted by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
In 2019, the programme supported African early-career scientists to present their research at international scientific events, to contribute to and learn from global policy processes, and to expand their scientific networks. Events included the UN Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (the STI Forum), the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Sida Science Days, the International Transdisciplinarity Conference, the International Conference on Sustainable Development, the 3rd International Conference on National Urban Policy, and the Innovation Bridge/Science Forum South Africa, to name but a few. Research from the programme featured in a series of blogs on the ISC website, and in the World Economic Forum blog. Academic articles published by LIRA researchers can be accessed here.
Transformations to Sustainability
The Transformations to Sustainability programme contributes to two of the four key domains of ISC work: providing knowledge about social transformations to sustainability to help advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and providing evidence about the design of innovative research programmes that can inform work for the evolution of science systems.
The ISC team has made special efforts to scale up the visibility of research on transformations to sustainability, to good effect. A partnership with the highly regarded journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (COSUST) was launched with a joint editorial in February 2019. Peer-reviewed analytical reviews of literature on key dimensions of transformations to sustainability will be sourced from the T2S networks for selected issues of COSUST, and will appear online in a virtual special issue. Over time, this special issue is intended to grow into a compendium of up-to-date knowledge on transformations to sustainability. Two ‘knowledge briefs’, bringing peer-reviewed research relevant to social transformations to a wider audience, were produced in 2019, and others will follow in 2020, based on the papers appearing in the COSUST virtual special issue.
A new programme website was launched in April 2019, featuring original and curated blogs and other resources resulting from or related to the Belmont Forum–New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE) initiative.
A highlight of the year was the Transformations 2019 conference in Santiago, Chile, in October. In addition to a keynote talk and numerous presentations of research findings at the main conference, the T2S programme convened a public pre-conference workshop, entitled ‘Transformation laboratories (T-LABS) as spaces for co-designing socio-ecological transformation: learning from different contexts and approaches’ in which projects shared their learning about multi-stakeholder research methodologies in discussion with other researchers and non-academic stakeholders.
“The T-lab workshop was a very enriching experience… the participants put all their knowledge and capacities into play and made very interesting reflections and proposals.”Almendra Cremaschi and Lakshmi Charli-Joseph, Transformations to Sustainability early-career researchers
Following the conference, researchers associated with the programme led the development of a policy brief entitled ‘Transformation from science to decision-making’ which is available in English and Spanish and was the programme’s most-visited publication in 2019.
Photo: Early-career researchers funded through the LIRA 2030 programme had the chance to build connections with each other and with members of the programme’s Scientific Advisory Committee at the 2019 LIRA Annual Research Forum, which took place in Dakar, Senegal.