Climate change, loss of biodiversity and the degradation of our common water resources are closely linked challenges that affect ecosystems, people and societies worldwide, in different ways. Water is a fundamental component of both the earth’s climate system and the biosphere, and the ongoing changes are serious enough to threaten the diversity of life forms, human food and water supply and the functionality of our societies. The window of opportunity for halting these negative trajectories and preventing more serious consequences is closing fast. We need to, among other things, tie the development of knowledge about these challenges closer to different societal actors.
The purpose of this call is to increase the knowledge about links between climate, water and biodiversity, as well as to support research-based and holistic approaches to addressing challenges in these three areas. The call is expected to lead to an increased ability in society for science-based decision making and for implementing measures designed with regard to climate, water and biodiversity. The projects funded in this call must clearly focus on the connections between all three areas.
The call is aimed at researchers at Swedish universities, research institutes or other organisations whose main activity is research. We encourage innovative research questions that bring together researchers from different research fields. We expect projects to have early and continuous collaboration with relevant actors outside the research community to enable rapid application of new knowledge.
Applicants are expected to intend to conduct research during two four-year stages. In stage 1 (2023–2027), projects of a minimum of SEK 8 million and a maximum of SEK 14 million are funded. Towards the end of the first stage, an evaluation will be carried out. All projects that receive good reviews in the evaluation are invited to apply for continued funding for a second stage (2027–2031).
According to the first part of the IPCC's sixth assessment report, climate change will intensify and significantly change the hydrological cycle both globally and regionally. Climate change leads, for example, to melting of ice and rising sea levels, changing precipitation patterns and water flows, torrential downpours and prolonged periods of drought. Large amounts of water create problems in society in the form of floods and landslides, but also unwanted transport of pollutants and nutrients. Lack of water can lead to low groundwater levels and limited water supply for households, agriculture and industries. At the same time, forestry and agriculture are expected to require more water as growing seasons become longer as a consequence of climate change. Extreme weather events can mean widespread human suffering, affect the functionality of societies and give rise to significant ecosystem disruptions – also in Sweden.
Climate change is simultaneously aggravating the global crisis of biodiversity depletion, not least in our oceans, coastal areas and freshwater ecosystems. Marine heat waves, acidification and oxygen deprivation in seas and oceans are becoming more common, with substantial and sometimes irreversible impacts on ecosystems. At the same time, marine ecosystems with a high capacity to absorb and store carbon dioxide, such as seagrass meadows, continue to be destroyed as a result of human activities, further reinforcing climate change. Changing conditions as a result of climate change can have an impact on individual species in both freshwater and salt water. This in turn can adversely affect people’s living conditions. According to the United Nations’ description of the global sustainability goal on oceans and marine resources, approximately three billion people worldwide depend on rich biodiversity in marine and coastal areas for their survival. Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are serious enough to threaten both human food and water supplies.
The time frames for reversing these trends and responding to their consequences are becoming increasingly narrow. We risk crossing critical thresholds with unknown and irreversible effects for the entire planet. The current decade has therefore been identified as crucial for going from words to actions, manifested through the sustainable development goals adopted in Agenda 2030: Climate action (goal 13), Clean water and sanitation (goal 6), Life below water (goal 14) and Life on land (goal 15).
One urgent message in the sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that substantial and immediate emission reductions are needed within the next few years to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ocean’s potential to contribute to Agenda 2030 is also highlighted by the United Nations proclamation of the 2020s as the decade for marine research. The United Nations’ panel of biodiversity and ecosystem services researchers, IPBES, has estimated that about half to one million of today’s more than eight million species are at risk of going extinct within a few decades unless strong measures are put in place to stop the negative trend. The link to biodiversity is repeatedly emphasised, not only with regard to climate but also to water.
While we have improved our understanding of the complex connections between these global challenges, important knowledge gaps remain. There is a need to, based on that knowledge, identify effective measures and tools for how to manage the challenges holistically. We need to link the development of knowledge closer to different societal actors and bring together expertise on how societies function – politically, legally, economically, socially and culturally – as well as how climate, hydrological processes and biodiversity interact. Sweden has an excellent starting point and, through international commitments, a responsibility to contribute to driving such knowledge development, in interaction with other countries and actors on the global stage.
The purpose of this call is to increase the knowledge about links between climate, water and biodiversity, as well as to support research-based and holistic approaches to addressing challenges in these three areas. The call is expected to lead to an increased ability in society for science-based decision making and for implementing measures designed with regard to climate, water and biodiversity.
We request projects that are clearly based on existing research and develop knowledge that meets the needs of actors outside the research community, either in Sweden or in other parts of the world. The initiative intends to enable long-term knowledge development. However, we also request early and continuous collaboration with relevant stakeholders so that new knowledge and developed methods can be quickly applied. Innovative research questions that bring together researchers from different research fields are encouraged.
The projects must clearly focus on the links between all three areas of the call: climate, water and biodiversity. ‘Climate’ refers to both the functionality of the climate system and the challenges arising from climate change. Research can focus on emission reductions, negative emissions, climate adaptation or the interactions between them. Furthermore, the call covers all types of water, such as marine environments, water on land, groundwater and drinking water. It can refer to, for example, water as a prerequisite for different habitats, human water use, or lack of water. Biodiversity is also interpreted broadly and can include variations within species, ecosystems, and genetics.
For research questions in which it is relevant, Formas encourages the use of national or international research infrastructure. This might include biodiversity data, soil observations, studies using research vessels, or data on social change, people's attitudes and environmental policy. We also welcome projects whose research can contribute to improving and streamlining already developed or proven methods of dealing with relevant challenges in the field.
The call is aimed at researchers at Swedish universities, research institutes or other organisations whose main activity is research. Multi- and interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged, where relevant, but are not required in this call. The overall competence and organisation of the project team shall be appropriate for project implementation.
In this call, we are targeting researchers who strive to contribute to the knowledge and competence development of stakeholders and users. We expect projects to have early and continuous collaboration with actors outside the research community.
Formas strives for an equitable, gender-balanced and inclusive development of society. Applicants should therefore design their project. These aspects should also be taken into account when forming the project team.
Before you apply
All information about what should be included in your application, as well as the application and assessment processes, is provided in the sections below.
Any changes to the call text will be listed below Revision history.
The main applicant must have obtained a PhD no later than the closing of the call, and be, or through the project become, active at an administrating organisation that has been generally approved by Formas for any calls. Generally approved administrating organisations are usually Swedish higher education institutions, research institutes or other organisations primarily engaged in research. Read more at: Who can become an administrating organisation?
Participating researchers must also have obtained their PhD degree by the time the call closes. Other staff involved in the project, such as graduate students or communicators, do not need to have a doctoral degree.
We prefer that the applicants collaborate with actors outside the research community, but there are no requirements for co-financing in the call.
The main applicant may submit a maximum of one application in this call. However, there are no restrictions on how many applications an individual can be a co-applicant for.
You can apply for funding in this call even if you are applying for or have projects in other Formas calls.
When applying for project funding, you can seek to have both direct and indirect expenses covered. Direct expenses include salaries, equipment and travel. Indirect expenses are those shared with others in your organisation, such as administration, IT and renting of premises. Indirect costs are sometimes referred to as overhead.
The total amount of the salary for a single researcher, PhD student or other staff must not exceed one hundred percent of full-time employment. This means that someone with a fully funded salary during the entire project period cannot receive additional funds for salary. Full-time retired researchers cannot receive funding for their own salary.
Formas’ grants can be used to fund research where certain sections are conducted by researchers or other project participants employed at a foreign university or research institute. However, the research must be initiated in and led from Sweden. The administrating organisation is responsible for hiring any foreign staff necessary or paying for activities or services outside Sweden in accordance with the administrating organisation’s guidelines. Foreign participation must, however, be limited, well-defined and clearly justified in the project proposal.
In addition to salary funding, funding can also be sought to cover operating costs (consumables, consulting services, equipment, travel, conferences, publication in journals and open-access databases), depreciation costs for equipment, and premises costs. The maximum amount allowed for equipment and depreciation costs is a total of SEK 1,000,000 for both costs.
If funds are to be transferred from the administrating organisation to another organisation involved in the project, the overhead cost of the latter can be applied to the funds transferred. Explain and report the different overhead costs in the budget specification. The project’s total overhead must be entered into the budget table.
If grant money is to be transferred from the administrating organisation to another organisation or be used to purchase services, it must be done in accordance with the administrating organisation’s guidelines.
We intend to fund research projects on this theme in two stages of four years each – stage 1 (2023–2027) and stage 2 (2027–2031). Applicants are expected to be able to conduct research during both stages.
This call relates to stage 1, for which a total of SEK 120 million has been reserved. Each research project may be granted funding of a minimum of SEK 8 million and a maximum of SEK 14 million for stage 1.
Towards the end of stage 1, an evaluation will be carried out guided by the criteria for this call (relevance, potential, implementation and organisation – see below How does the evaluation process work?). Projects that receive good reviews in the evaluation will be invited to apply for continued funding for stage 2.
The amount of funding available for stage 2 is expected to be in line with stage 1. A small budget to wind up the project will be offered to those projects that do not receive funding for stage 2.
How to apply
You apply for a grant in our application system, Prisma. This is where you input all necessary information for your application. To do this, you need to create an account.
All limits for the maximum number of characters refer to characters including spaces. We recommend that you use Arial font in size 12 for all information entered into the text boxes.
Your application must include a clear description of the project under the following sections:
- Number of years for the project. In this call, the application form is preset to four years with the project starting 1 October 2023. This cannot be changed.
- Project title in Swedish and in English (max. 200 characters including spaces).
- Popular science description in Swedish (max. 4,500 characters including spaces). If the research project is awarded a grant, this will be published within open-access databases without a confidentiality review. The contents of this field should, therefore, not contain any sensitive information.
- Abstract in Swedish and in English (max. 1,500 characters each, including spaces). If granted funding, project abstracts will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these sections should not contain any sensitive information.
- Relevance and potential (max. 12,000 characters including spaces)
- Describe how the project can contribute to the purpose and focus of the call. Justify how the project’s research question is relevant and how it responds to the knowledge needs of actors outside the research community.
- Provide a background description that includes an overview of the research area and the state of knowledge ("state-of-the-art"). Describe the research and knowledge on which the project is based.
- Describe how the project can make a scientific contribution and develop the current state of knowledge. Justify how the project is innovative.
- Describe how the project can contribute to the knowledge and competence development of stakeholders and users. Describe how this development is related to the implementation.
- Describe the expected results of stage 1 and, on a general level, the expected results of stage 2.
- Describe how the project and the expected results have taken into consideration the relevant needs and conditions of different groups in society.
- Implementation (max. 12,000 characters including spaces)
- Explain how the project will be carried out, including the methods, work activities and schedule.
- Describe how the project intends to apply the results.
- Organisation (max. 5,000 characters including spaces)
- Describe the project organisation and justify the choice of project participants, their skills, roles and participation in the project. Here, you can describe both the researchers and stakeholders/users.
- Describe the collaboration between researchers and stakeholders/users.
- Also reflect on how gender equality, equity and diversity have been integrated in the project.
- List of references (max. 5,000 characters including spaces)
The project budget is to be provided in Prisma. Note that the budget (specification) should always be written in English; any budget specification written in Swedish will not be translated but will instead be assessed as is by the international review panel. In Prisma, write out the total amount you are applying for in kronor using digits. For example, SEK 1 million should be written as: SEK 1,000,000.
The budget description should include the following:
- Salaries, including social fees for each project participant (researchers, doctoral students, or other staff for whom there is an employment relationship).
- Percent of salary refers to the percentage of the applicant’s full-time salary that corresponds to their salary in the project.
- Degree of activity refers to the percentage of a full-time position that is contributed by the participant. It details whether the applicant contributes in-kind or other funding to complete the project.
- Running costs include, for example, consumables, travel, conferences and publication in open-access journals and databases. This also refers to research services, technical know-how, consulting services and corresponding services that have been purchased or licensed from external actors on market terms and that are used exclusively for the project. These purchased services must be reported excluding VAT. Specify running costs in accordance with the practices applicable to the administrating organisation.
- Equipment and depreciation costs. Specify (depreciated) costs for equipment, if relevant to the application. The total maximum amount you can be granted for equipment and depreciated costs is SEK 1,000,000.
- Premises. You can apply for funding to cover the cost of facilities if this is not yet accounted for within the project's overhead. Specify premises costs in accordance with the applicable practices of the administrating organisation.
- Total amount sought/Subtotal refers to costs already entered in the previous budget tables, which will be automatically transferred to these items.
- Indirect costs refers to overhead costs. The overhead costs should be specified in accordance with practices applicable to the organisation that will manage the grant. If funds are to be transferred from the administrating organisation to another organisation involved in the project, then the overhead cost of the latter can be applied to the funds transferred. Explain and report the different overhead costs in the budget specification. The project's total overhead must be entered into the budget table. Formas does not grant funding for overhead costs that are written off for equipment or facilities.
- Other costs refers to funds not sought but relevant to the completion of the project. An example is co-funding received from partners or project funding received from other sources.
- Total cost refers to a budget summation.
- Budget specification explains the budget in words. State how the grant amount you are applying for will be distributed each year, as well as the total amount for each receiving organisation (if funds are to be transferred). Provide a brief justification for the salary expenses that were stated in the budget. All other costs must be justified, such as those for participating in conferences, fees for open access to publications and data, etc. Also state the total project budget, including funding from other sources. The budget specification is part of the application assessment. Max 7,000 characters including spaces.
Specify if there are any ethical concerns with the research project. If so, state what they are and how you plan to manage them. Examples include research that uses personal data or research involving experiments on humans or animals.
If you are conducting research on people, human tissue or are processing sensitive personal data, you must obtain ethical approval from the Swedish Ethical Review Authority. Additionally, if you are conducting research on animals, you must also obtain ethical approval. You can apply for approval through the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s online service.
You should state in your project application whether or not you have obtained ethical approval. If you have not, but are awarded a grant, then you must obtain approval before the study in question begins.
Even if your research is not expected to warrant ethical concerns, this should be stated and briefly explained within the application.
Formas uses the project’s classifications in analyses and supporting documentation at a general level. These classifications are made when the applicant states the subject area, research topic (SCB code), at least one SDG the project can contribute to, and keywords.
- Subject area
Select at least one and a maximum of three subject areas and add a sub-heading.
- Research subject (SCB code)
Select at least one and a maximum of three research topics and two sub-topics that together form the entire code.
- Sustainable development goals (SDGs)
Select at least one and up to three sustainable development goals (SDGs) that the project can contribute to, in order of relevance. As the meaning of the goals is sometimes narrower than the title indicates, you are encouraged to follow the link below and read in more detail about the goal(s) you intended to state to ensure that the intended research contributes to that particular goal.
More about the meaning of the goals. External link.
Enter a minimum of one and a maximum of three keywords describing the project.
Administrating organisation – the organisation receiving the grant
In this call, only applicants from Formas’ administrating organisations that are approved for all calls can submit an application. Prisma contains a default list of approved administrating organisations.
- Select your administrating organisation from the drop-down list.
- Select the domicile from the drop-down menu.
- The main applicant invites participating researchers to the application, in Prisma.
- A participating researcher is a PhD-researcher who is considered a co-applicant for the project.
- You can also have participating administrators who are not involved in the project but who help you fill in the application form. Participating administrators cannot register the application; this must be done by the main applicant.
- All participants must have created their own personal account in Prisma.
- Main applicants invite people to participate in the application process by searching for their given name, surname and email address in Prisma (note that exact spelling of names and email addresses is required).
The project manager and participating researchers retrieve CV information from their respective accounts in Prisma and add it to the application. Only participating researchers with PhDs should submit their CVs. Applicants should review their CV in Prisma, to ensure that it is complete and up to date. If participating researchers have not accepted the invitation or have not filled in the required fields correctly, the main applicant will not be able to complete registration of the application. Participants who are not co-applicants do not have the ability to attach CV information. Instead, their qualifications for the project should be described in the project description.
The following CV information should be added to the application.
- Personal details
- Educational history
- Research education
- Basic education
- Professional history
- Post doctoral assignments
- Research exchange assignments (relevant to the proposed research)
- Interruptions in research (such as parental leave, illness, military service or political duties. Please, do not provide any details that may be considered sensitive).
- The main applicant and participating researchers should list their most relevant publications. Up to ten publications can be specified per person. The publications should be linked from the applicants’ personal profiles in Prisma.
- Merits and awards
- Docentur (Refers to “docentur” granted in Sweden).
- Supervised persons: PhD students, postdocs, graduate thesis students; add either as an individual person or as a group. When adding groups, enter the total number for each category. When adding an individual person, name the most relevant (max. 10).
- Research grants awarded in competition: Specify the most relevant ones (max. 10).
- Awards and distinctions: Specify the most relevant ones (max. 10).
- Other merits:
- Other relevant qualifications should be listed here, such as popular science publications and documented experience with collaboration and research communication (max. 10).
- The main applicant and participating researchers should also provide a brief summary of their publications during the past five years, as well as in total, if the applicant’s active research period exceeds five years (max. 800 characters including spaces). This summary should include the following:
- The number of various types of publications (such as articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, books and other monographs, conference papers and popular science contributions)
- The summary must not contain information about journal impact factors or any other type of metric used to rank publishers or journals.
- Intellectual property
The following appendices can be uploaded if relevant for the application:
- Appendix 1. Illustrations. If figures, tables or images are needed to describe your project idea, you can attach them as an appendix. A maximum of one PDF attachment (4 MB) can be uploaded. Please note that a CV should not be attached as an appendix.
The application should be written in English since the review panel is international. If you do write your application in Swedish, a professional translator will translate into English only the section describing the research programme. You will not be able to amend the translation before the application proceeds to assessment. In addition, the popular science description must be written in Swedish, while the abstract should be in both Swedish and English. The budget specification and your CV will not be translated. Please write these in English, even if you write the other sections in Swedish and submit your application in the Swedish version of our application system.
It is of importance to Formas that the projects we finance are carried out in a way that maximises positive impacts and minimises negative impacts on the environment and on the climate. Therefore, we encourage grant applicants to design their projects to prioritise collaboration that takes place primarily through online meetings and ensure any necessary travel is as climate smart as possible. We also suggest that measures for minimising energy use and other resource consumption, emissions and waste are included in your project planning. However, this will not be a part of the application assessment.
Please read about Formas’ own sustainability work.
After submitting your application
According to Swedish law, your application and its appendices are considered public upon receipt. This means that anyone can request and read your application. Information can only be concealed if it is confidential as defined in the Public Access to Information and Confidentiality Act (2009:400).
Formas has limited capacity to keep personal data confidential. Therefore, your application should not contain the personal data of anyone who is not a participating applicant.
If the project is granted funding, the popular science description and project abstracts, written in both Swedish and English, will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these sections should not contain sensitive information.
Once your application is submitted, Formas verifies that the application meets the procedural requirements set out in the call. If it does not meet these requirements, it is rejected.
The following requirements will be verified in this call:
- The administrating organisation has signed the application within seven calendar days of the call’s closing date.
- The application has been approved by the administrating organisation.
- The application’s focus falls within Formas’ areas of responsibility.
- The focus of the application falls within the call’s areas.
- The application is complete and contains all mandatory information.
- The requirements for project managers, project participants and organisations under “Applicant and organisation requirements” are met.
- Any main applicant who is responsible for other projects or activities funded by Formas has submitted any requested reports by the stated deadline.
All applications are assessed by an external review panel based on the contents of the application. It is therefore important to write the application as clearly as possible and include all important and relevant information.
Applications will be assessed by an international review panel that is qualified to cover the current theme in the call. Therefore, take into account that the reviewers may come from other countries and may need knowledge of Swedish conditions. Each application is read and evaluated by several members of the panel. The review panel will be composed of active researchers as well as individuals outside academia with the expertise necessary to evaluate the relevance of the research. The review panel is appointed by Formas. Discrimination, such as on the basis of sex, is prohibited in the assessment of applications.
The applications are assessed based on the following criteria:
- The project can contribute significantly to the purpose and focus of the call.
- The purpose of the project and its research questions are of high relevance to the research area and the current state of knowledge ("state-of-the-art").
- The project is expected to meet the important needs of actors outside the research community.
- The design of the project and the expected results have taken into consideration the relevant needs and conditions of different groups in society.
- The purpose and objectives are innovative.
- The project has the potential to make a significant scientific contribution.
- The project has the potential to provide stakeholders and users with significant knowledge and skills development.
- The expected results of stage 1 are well described, and the expected results of stage 2 are outlined.
- The planned method and activities are appropriate for achieving the expected results.
- The overall questions of the project are addressed from a relevant combination of disciplines and research fields.
- The time frame and budget are realistic and appropriate in relation to the purpose and objectives of the project.
- Ethical considerations are well described and the plan for how to handle these is appropriate.
- The overall competence and organisation of the project team is appropriate for project implementation.
- The project group has a high level of scientific expertise that is of significant relevance to project implementation.
- The project is carried out in early and continuous collaboration with relevant stakeholders or end users.
- The involvement of the project participants is well described and appropriate for the objectives of the project.
- The project team design addresses gender equality, equity, and diversity perspectives in a relevant way.
A decision on which projects are granted funding is expected to be taken on 19 September 2023. The decisions will be published on the Formas website the following day, at the latest, and later via an email from Prisma. Grant decisions cannot be appealed.
All approved projects must report financial and project findings to Formas within three months of the end of the disposition period. An annual financial statement must be submitted to Formas for projects that are longer than 18 months. All reports are to be submitted in Prisma.
Formas may impose requirements on how projects must be reported in terms of content and findings to enable distribution and utilisation. In such cases, more information will be presented together with the funding approval decision. Formas may also require you to participate in conferences and other events in order to create synergies and platforms for learning and knowledge sharing.
Results of research funded by Formas must be published using open access.
You must also have a management plan for the data produced in the project. If you receive funding from us, you must develop such a plan. This plan does not need to be submitted to Formas but should be presented on request. By signing our grant terms and conditions, you certify that a data management plan will be available before the research begins and that it will be maintained.
Any post-publication revisions to the call text are listed below.