SDC HUC Focus Grants 

Call for Proposals

Date of circulation: 30 March 2018
Application deadline: 7 May 2018

Background

The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is home to 240 million people in the mountains and hills, and around two billion people in the river basins with their headwaters in the HKH. It has the largest body of ice outside the polar regions, covering an area of more than 60,000 km2. Hence, the HKH region is sometimes referred to as the Third Pole. The glaciers, ice fields, and snow packs provide important intra- and inter- annual water storage facilities, and the mountains are often called the “water towers” of Asia. They are the major source of surface water and groundwater during the dry season and play a significant role in agriculture and food and energy security. Around one billion people live in the three large transboundary basins in the region – the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra. These rivers have their sources in the HKH mountains, and are shared across borders between Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Climate change studies increasingly suggest that the effects of glacial melt, temperature variations, and erratic monsoon patterns will reduce the availability of water in the region and lead to a greater frequency of floods and droughts. 


Globalization and climate change have an increasing influence on the stability of fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people. Mountain and downstream communities are increasingly vulnerable to climate change impacts and are in pressing need of effective adaptation and mitigation measures. The resilience and adaption capacities of communities and ecosystems need to be strengthened through adaptation mechanisms that are built on both indigenous knowledge of autonomous adaptation and strong scientific evidence. Appropriate policies and practices, and innovative livelihood improvement and sustainable natural resource management strategies need to be developed through a strong partnership between scientists, policy makers, and practitioners.

Universities and research centres play a key role in generating, sharing, and disseminating knowledge on climate change and providing evidence for effective climate change impact mitigation policies and practice. They also play a key role in filling in crucial knowledge gaps and infusing technical content into public discourse that can help influence policy makers and public opinion. The Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) was founded in 2007 with a mandate to develop an effective, sustainable network of universities in the HKH, for collaboration with academic, research, and knowledge generating and exchange institutions both within and outside the HKH region for sustainable mountain development. Its founding member, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICMOD), hosts the HUC Secretariat as part of one of its Regional Programmes –  Mountain Knowledge and Action Networks. The Consortium has expanded its network to 47 full members in eight HKH countries and 15 associate members in OECD and other Asian countries (Annex 1). Through initial activities such as Small/Seed Grants, Exchange/Mobility Grants, and ICIMOD PhD/Doctoral Fellowship Programmes, members have increased their ownership and commitment. Nine HUC Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) have been established and initial steps are being taken to build regional collaboration on research and training for sustainable mountain development across the Consortium (Annex 2).

In order to assist the consolidation and sustainability of the network, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has provided a two-year grant to HUC as part of the Second Phase (2016–2019) of the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP). The initiative is called HUC SDC Focus Grants and aims to contribute to IHCAP’s objective of advancing knowledge on climate science and promoting effective and sustainable adaptation measures. It seeks to upscale the impacts of interventions made by IHCAP to the larger HKH region and promote regional collaboration between institutions of higher education in India and those in neighbouring countries, under the continued support of Swiss expertise.

Thematic Areas & Requirements

The objective of the focus grants is to foster regional collaboration in higher education research and training in and for sustainable mountain development. 

Institutional grant proposals are expected to focus on any of the nexuses among the thematic areas of Climate Change Sciences and Adaptation Measures: Water, Ecosystems, Landuse, Air Quality, Gender, Migration, Food, etc.

Grant activities may range from primary data collection and analyses of existing data and preparation of international peer-reviewed publications, and development of adaptation strategies or policy briefs, to revising course syllabi/curricula, in any combination. However, trainings, workshops/conferences, exposure visits by faculties or students, and stand-alone curriculum building/revision are ineligible grant activities. 

Applying (leading) institutions must be one of HUC’s Full Members (Annex 1). The proposal must also fulfill the following: 

  • The implementing partnership should consist of at least one additional HUC Full Member from a country other than that of the lead institution.
  • The implementation of the grant must involve relevant expertise from research institutions in Switzerland .
  • The linkage with one of HUC’s Thematic Working Groups is convincingly demonstrated (Annex 2).
  • Adhere to the ICIMOD’s reporting, financial, and administrative requirements.
Previous grantees of HUC Seed/Seedling Grants are strongly encouraged to apply.

Funding And Duration 

Depending on the scope of the proposed activities and the size of partnership, funding ranges from USD 20,000 to USD 35,000 per grant for a duration of 12 to 15 months, starting 15 June 2018. Three to four grants will be awarded.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by an independent panel of climate change and adaptation experts, according to the following criteria.

  • Scientific quality: Validity and relevance of research question, quality of literature review, clarity and appropriateness of methodology for data collection and/or analyses, potential for international peer reviewed publication.
  • Policy relevance: With direct policy implications, proven feasible and sustainable adaptation measures.
  • Strength of partnership: Clearly defiend roles, responsibilities, and contributions of each partner. Proposal based on existing partnership and scope for continuation, evidence of ownership or shared leadership, linkage with HUC TWGs, presence of women as principal investigators in the team, incorporation of Swiss expertise, etc.
  • Interdisciplinary approach: Balance between natural and social sciences, creative use of stakeholder engaging strategies, etc.
  • Potential for upscaling: Replicability and applicability of research outcome or/and adaptation measures in other contexts.
  • Potential for impact and sustainability: Identified impact areas, secured commitment for policy or curriculum uptake by relevant institutions, potential for external funding from government and international agencies.  

Procedures to Apply

Please register online at huc-hkh.org/user/register

Further to apply for the grant, please follow the link below: 

huc-hkh.org/grant/detail/sdc-huc-focus-grants-2018

The application must be submitted by 17:00, Nepal Standard Time on 7 May 2018.

Please send you queries are to The Himalayan University Consortium Secretariat

Important Dates

Deadline for submission of proposal: 7 May 2018
Notification of Selection: 25 May 2018
Grant contract signing: 15 June 2018
Inception Meeting in Kathmandu (Nepal): 1 July 2018. Principal investigators of lead partners and selected participating partners are required to participate in the Inception Meeting.