11/04/2021 12:00 - Europe/London
    Not funded by an EU programme
    United Kingdom, Coventry
    Coventry University
    Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience


Funder: British Council Researcher Links Climate Challenge

In the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow, this collaboration between the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University, and the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) will forge ECR networks between the UK and South Africa to co-generate research focusing on:

  • Adaptation & Resilience: to promote social and political transitions towards climate resilient food systems through adaptive farming strategies;

  • Nature: to research the application of nature-based farming solutions to protect and restore ecosystem functions on which soils, water, livelihoods and climate depend; and

  • Finance: to advocate for a transformation of international agriculture funding and investment priorities, and public procurement in support of more equitable and resilient food and farming systems.

Invitation to Early Career Researchers to participate

Are you interested in building your network of peers and mentors on transdisciplinary and action research for climate justice? We invite early career researchers (ECRs) from South Africa and the UK, from academia and civil society organisations to join a cohort of 40 early career researchers to join us in this 10 month process from May 2021 to March 2022. Together, we will:

  • Participate in a series of online workshops (a total of 16 hours over 6 mornings & evenings)

  • Collaborate on the development of research proposals, and

  • Receive mentoring and engage in peer-to-peer-learning on project design and development.

Successful proposals by ECR collaborations will then:

  • Win Challenge Prize funding to undertake research activities

  • Receive mentoring for project implementation and reporting, and

  • Have an opportunity to participate in training on communicating research using different media (podcasting, brief writing, animation).

Applications for participation opens March 1st – closes April 11th 2021 - see criteria for ECR applicants below.

Researcher Links Workshops

Six workshops (totalling 18 hours) will take place over three months (May-July) in 3-hour sessions delivered in the mornings and evenings to optimise accessibility.

The purpose of the workshops is to develop an interdisciplinary network of ECRs in South Africa (SA) and UK specialising in food and farming systems transformation in an era of acute climate uncertainty. Forty ECRs from academic institutions and civil society organisations in the UK and SA will be invited, through an open process, to participate in a series of online workshops. These are designed to focus on the 3 key themes (resilience & adaptation, nature and financing) and contribute research outputs to COP26. Workshops aim to build research skills, facilitate networking, and to prepare ECRs to develop collaborative proposals to be presented and evaluated by a panel. The process provides an opportunity to bridge different 'ways of knowing' and engage with deliberative consensus-forming processes across disciplinary perspectives. With a focus on re-orientating financing for agroecological transitions to stimulate adaptation and resilience through nature-based farming solutions, workshops link closely with the SDGs. As climate change, food systems, seed, soil and water, gender and political ecology specialists we will promote critical ECR collaborations between natural and social scientists, drawn from both academia and civil society networks across urban and rural spaces.

Challenge Prize Research Projects

Mentored by specialists within the project team, an anticipated four successful projects will be awarded a Challenge Prize to conduct transdisciplinary research over a period of six months. This research will then be translated and communicated into various forms of accessible media.

The Challenge Prizes will facilitate the co-production of research with vulnerable, small-scale producers and other food system actors in SA inhabiting some of the most fragile landscapes exposed to acute water scarcity, soil erosion and land pressures, who are at the forefront of grassroots initiatives that respond to climate change impacts on food and farming systems. Our focus emphasises the co-generation of socially inclusive research capable of collectively restoring ecosystem functions and building adaptive capacities for climate resilient food & farming.

NOTE: In anticipation of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, and with the climate costs of UK>SA travel, ECRs will be expected to work creatively and divide their work packages. While having joint responsibility for conceptualisation, analysis and Challenge project reporting, UK ECRs may be expected to undertake desktop research on ie. policy drivers; while SA ECRs undertake COVID-compliant fieldwork on their impacts (ie. on natural resources, landscapes and livelihoods), using video or other tools to share such as focus group discussions, iterviews and field observations with UK colleagues.


The overall objectives of the project are to:

  1. Develop an interdisciplinary network of ECRs in SA and UK to strengthen skills and capabilities for collaborative working and co-production of high-quality research on climate resilient food systems with real-world impacts.

  2. Discuss, plan, and build up a network for longer-term collaboration between participating institutions and specialists (e.g. project proposals & ECR fellowships; co-author papers; staff exchanges).

  3. Co-develop and -present high-quality research, through creative multi-media tools and channels, disseminated at high-level fora for evidenced-based policy making.

We anticipate these being achieved by:

  • Introducing ECRs to intersecting themes within food systems research through keynotes and break-out discussions

  • Providing opportunities for ECR research sharing and networking during ECR presentations on their own research interests

  • Team-building for intersectoral and interdisciplinary research and collaborations supported by mentors (through to implementation, M&E and reporting)

  • Strengthening research capacities and developing skills – participatory action research conceptualisation and proposal, report and policy brief writin

  • Producing one or more briefs that contribute to CAWRs Transforming Food Systems policy and podcast series

  • Supporting ongoing collaboration through learning platforms, including an opportunity for shared experiences of the Challenge Prize research journey, and pursuing research funding opportunities.


Core Research Team and Emphasis

As climate change, food systems, seed, soil and water, gender and political ecology specialists we will promote critical ECR collaborations between natural and social scientists, drawn from both academia and civil society networks across urban and rural spaces. Our focus emphasises the co-generation of socially inclusive research capable of collectively restoring ecosystem functions and building adaptive capacities for climate resilient food & farming.


Applicant Eligibility

Eligible applicants will be from South Africa or the UK, and must be early career researchers in academic and other institutions (e.g. public, private or civil society) in a variety of disciplines. ECRs from academia will have received their PhD within 10 years, and researcher-practitioners will have been actively engaged for 10 years with civil society networks. ECRs from institutions across South Africa may be resident elsewhere in the region, providing opportunities to bring in different country perspectives and research experiences to discussions.

Selection will be based on establishing an interdisciplinary and cross sectoral cohort relevant to the demands of policy and practice for food systems transformation. These are anticipated to be drawn from the environmental sciences (social and natural) and environmental humanities: climate, soil, seed and water sciences, ecology, social and environmental policy, planning and law; gender, sociology, human and physical geography and anthropology.

Access to the open call for participation will be based on a personal statement and CV. A short-list will be discussed and agreed by a UCT-CAWR working group. Eligibility criteria includes:

  • Experience and relevance to research area (above)

  • Motivation and contribution to the aims

  • Description of the long-term impact of participation

  • Potential to utilise outcomes to form future collaborations.

Applicants can apply between March 1st and April 11th 2021 via this link 

Applicants should send only a:

  1. 2-page CV, and
  2. 2-page personal statement

Equal opportunities, gender balance and diversity will be considered as fundamental to the selection process. In our experience, diverse teams make better decisions and produce richer experiences.


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