Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa (LIRA 2030)

The LIRA 2030 programme seeks to increase the production of high quality, integrated (inter- and transdisciplinary), solutions-oriented research on global sustainability by early-career scientists in Africa.

LIRA meeting Ethiopia

In 2020 an Annual Research Forum was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Thirty-five researchers met with members of the programme’s Scientific Advisory Committee and other leading scholars and practitioners on urban and transdisciplinary research, in order to share experiences and foster collaboration on tackling sustainability challenges across African cities.

Researchers also took part in training on scientific writing to increase publication success, which was delivered by ISC Affiliate Member the International Network for Advancing Science and Policy (INASP).

The report explores what it takes to co-produce knowledge on sustainable urban development in Africa through collaboration among scientists, policy actors, urban practitioners, the private sector and communities, and the opportunities and challenges created by this engaged process of knowledge production.


In addition, LIRA researchers published multiple blogs, 17 academic articles and 20 policy briefs in 2020, and featured in a series of videos filmed during the 2020 meeting.

Watch all the project videos here:

The programme also launched eight collaborative projects to foster research collaboration and learning across the LIRA projects and to support interdisciplinary writing teams to publish joint academic articles. This funding supports teams that bring together representatives from two or more LIRA 2030 projects that have not previously worked together. The aim is to compare and synthesize knowledge in order to help scale up the societal, environmental and intellectual benefits of different projects, and ultimately to advance scientific understanding of urban sustainable development in African cities.

‘The grant provides an opportunity for intellectual advancement and for practical insights into the contribution of transdisciplinary research (TD) to the SDGs implementation through knowledge exchange, methods, and concepts sharing. The grant gives me an opportunity to publish a joint paper with LIRA grantees. It will increase my chances of being promoted at my institution and of receiving additional grants for upscaling.’

Sokhna Thiam, one of the LIRA researchers leading a collaborative project at IRESSEF (Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training), Senegal.

Several LIRA projects were also actively involved in reflecting on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for urban development in Africa, for health systems and for transdisciplinary research. In addition, webinars held in November-December 2020 provided a showcase for project results and an opportunity to discuss how COVID-19 had affected research under the programme.

A LIRA project led by Sylvia Croese was highlighted in Mozambique’s Voluntary National Review on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, which was presented at the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2020.

LIRA 2030, which was launched in 2016, was due to wrap up in 2020, but has been extended for an additional year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, to allow researchers to complete their activities. LIRA 2030 is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).


Image: ISC (Zhenya Tsoy).

Next up: Urban Health and Wellbeing Programme 

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