Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa

Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa is a 5-year programme that seeks to increase the production of high-quality, integrated (inter- and transdisciplinary), solutions-oriented research on global sustainability by early career scientists in Africa. The knowledge will be used to address complex sustainability challenges in the region.

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The LIRA 2030 programme is run by the International Science Council together with its Regional Office for Africa and in strong partnership with the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC). The Programme is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and will run until December 2020.

Who is it for?

The programme aims to foster research collaboration primarily among early career scientists based in Africa with no more than 10 years’ work experience following their PhDs, or equivalent research experience. A particular emphasis is on ensuring participation of low-income countries (based on OECD ODA’s ranking) in research collaboration.

What is it about?

The programme supports collaborative research that explores new approaches to re-thinking urban futures in Africa, in partnership with local authorities, communities, industry and government.

The global research programmes Future Earth, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), and Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment provide an overall thematic framing for the programme’s activities. In that way, the programme will increase African participation in the implementation of these global research programmes. The programme also promotes the integration of gender equity and poverty reduction dimensions in research practice and content.

LIRA 2030 Africa provides opportunities for scientific exchange and for South–South and North–South research collaboration through Annual Research Fora. The first forum took place in Abuja, Nigeria on 13-15 November 2017.

Outstanding early-career scientists supported by LIRA 2030 Africa also have opportunities for career development through participation in international scientific committees and conferences, working groups and inter-governmental policy processes.

Progress to date

The programme has launched three open calls for pre-proposals:

  1. Understanding the ‘energy-health’ and ‘health-natural disasters’ nexuses in African cities;
  2. Advancing the implementation of SDG11 in cities in Africa; and
  3. Pathways towards Sustainable Urban Development in Africa.

Following each call, a five-day training workshop is organized for representatives of short-listed pre-proposals. The workshops aim to support the development of full proposals by building scientific capacity to undertake trans-disciplinary (TD) research, enabling researchers to build meaningful inter- and trans-disciplinary projects, and to strengthen science communication skills. Three workshops have taken place: in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2016; in Kampala, Uganda, in August 2017; and in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, in September 2018. Around 100 early-career scientists from across Africa have received training.

Following each workshop, the participants have two and a half months to develop and submit full proposals for the full two-year collaborative research grants, and these are then subject to scientific review. Only participants in the training workshops are eligible to apply for the full grants of 90,000 Euros. The Scientific Advisory Commitee then makes research funding decisions.

Nineteen projects have been funded to date, and up to twelve additional projects will be awarded grants in 2019. The programme plans to build a network of over 30 collaborative projects seeking to address complex challenges in the African urban context.