Limiting global warming in line with the Paris Agreement and adapting life to a changing climate pose a huge challenge and, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), require a transformation of society. Such a transformation requires a system perspective and a holistic view.
Actions taken in the climate change transformation must be sustainable, both over time and in different geographical and social contexts. At the same time, there are many uncertainties that affect climate actions. Communities are constantly facing urgent challenges and crises, which can mean that climate efforts are given lower priority. But crises can also drive changes in practices that support the climate change transformation. Achieving flexible and adaptable development pathways will be crucial for society’s transformation – locally, regionally and globally – and for long-term sustainable development. So a key question is, how can we achieve a climate change transformation that stays the course while simultaneously managing other challenges and uncertainty factors in the short and the long term?
This call for proposals seeks research projects that provide knowledge about and for a sustainable climate change transformation that is robust in a changing world. We wish to see projects that place the climate change transformation in a holistic perspective, based on the need for system-wide processes. Funded projects can, for example, be about how different stakeholders can actively drive the processes of climate change transformation or provide knowledge about how different types of crises and challenges can create obstacles or opportunities for the transformation. The research can also provide knowledge about which capabilities and practices, such as different types of social, organisational and technological innovations, can promote proactive, robust and sustainable climate actions. It can also address how different stakeholders and groups in society affect and are affected by the transformation, or how they can better anticipate and manage crises and parallel challenges.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. In 2015, the world’s countries declared in the Paris Agreement that the global temperature increase should be kept well below 2 degrees Celsius and that we should strive to limit it to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels. The IPCC estimates in its latest report, however, that a 1.5-degree average temperature increase can happen already within a few decades. The commitments made by the world’s countries are currently far from sufficient to slow down climate change and achieve the agreed climate targets. It is thus clear that we need to raise our climate action ambitions in order to limit warming while adapting to a changing climate. This poses major challenges for communities around the world. It is increasingly claimed that we need to face a fundamental transformation of our communities towards sustainable development.
The concept of transformation focuses on systemic, non-linear changes and is ultimately about a radical reshaping of society and the way it is organised – socially, culturally and in practice. Talking about transformation paves the way for understanding climate actions and climate change from a holistic perspective, which recognises the system-wide effects of the changes necessary for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting our communities to a changing climate. Transformation processes alter current practices in a profound way, revealing deep conflicts of values and interests. System perspectives and a holistic view are central for the actions taken in the climate change transformation for achieving sustainability, both over time and in different geographical and social contexts.
Simultaneously with climate change transformation efforts, we need to manage parallel crises and other urgent, often unpredictable, challenges. The past few years have been exceptional. First, we had to confront a worldwide pandemic that exposed shortcomings in our preparedness. The pandemic was followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which fundamentally changed the security order in Europe and put energy supply high on the political agenda. In parallel with these events, countless other crises are taking place, including other armed conflicts, loss of biodiversity, deepening social inequalities within and between countries, and the erosion of democratic freedoms and rights. New emergencies are expected to arise and demand our immediate attention. In all this, tensions are growing between time horizons: emergencies are being pitted against long-term transformation efforts, with the latter at risk of losing momentum and being deprioritised. But crises can also drive changes in practices that can support the climate change transformation. Achieving flexible and adaptable development pathways will be crucial for society’s transformation – locally, regionally and globally – and for long-term sustainable development.
A system perspective and the notion of transformation have the potential to promote synergies in managing society’s various challenges, including the climate crisis, and to promote long-term sustainable development. To be sustainable in the long term, the climate change transformation needs to take into account the political dimensions of the transformation and issues of global justice. Reducing emissions and adapting communities in countries like Sweden or in Europe should not worsen the prospects for transformation and sustainable development elsewhere in the world, as underscored in the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030. The perspective of justice should also be applied within communities and countries. The climate change transformation can promote certain interests over others, and diverse interests depending on time perspectives. It is essential to consider and manage such conflicts of interest, for example through compensation to groups that are adversely affected, in order to establish legitimacy and broad acceptance of the transformation. Democracy and justice are at the heart of a sustainable transformation.
This call is being announced within the framework of the national research programme on climate External link., whose overarching goal is to provide knowledge for a transformation of society that addresses the climate challenges.
The purpose of this call is to provide knowledge about and for a climate change transformation that is robust in a changing world and drives sustainable development over the long term. The measures taken must therefore be aligned with Swedish and global sustainability goals, such as Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement.
Funded projects can cover a variety of areas and aspects of the transformation we face to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt communities to a changing climate while promoting long-term sustainable development. In the application, you must clearly describe how your proposed project can be expected to contribute to a transformation that addresses the climate challenges and is sustainable over the long term.
Projects can contribute knowledge in a variety of areas, including how different stakeholders can actively promote climate change transformation, how various stakeholders and social groups affect and are affected by the transformation efforts, and how changes can occur in institutional structures, social practices, economic systems or values. This also includes following up, evaluating, and adapting climate change transformation efforts in a changing world.
Projects can also provide knowledge about how different types of crises can create obstacles or opportunities for the climate change transformation. This can include research on how crisis-driven transformation processes have been managed and how they have affected – or are affecting – long-term climate change transformation efforts or contribute knowledge about how stakeholders can better anticipate and manage crises. Funded projects can also provide knowledge about which capabilities and practices, such as different types of social, organisational, and technological innovations, can promote proactive, robust, and sustainable climate actions and long-term sustainable development.
Since the call focuses on system-wide perspectives, we welcome multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations as well as the involvement of appropriate societal stakeholders. However, there are no strict requirements in this respect in order to be awarded funding. Assessment takes place according to specified criteria for scientific quality and societal relevance (described later in this call text).
Research projects that are considered to fall outside the purpose and focus of the call cannot be awarded a grant and will be rejected prior to review. Projects that do not include system-wide perspectives – for example, ones that are narrowly focused on developing materials or products without taking into account social aspects – will not be awarded funding in this call. Submitted applications are assessed with regard to their fit with the scope of the call. Such assessments are therefore only made after the call closes.
Applicants are encouraged to design a project in a way that reduces the project’s own climate footprint. Read more under “Environmental considerations when planning your project”.
The call is aimed at researchers who are affiliated with a Swedish higher education institution, research institute, or government agency that has a research mandate. International collaborations can be included (see more under “Costs that qualify for funding”). The call is aimed at researchers in a range of disciplines and with different scientific perspectives and approaches. We welcome multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations as well as collaboration with stakeholders, but this is not a requirement for seeking funding in the call. The main applicant and participating researchers must have completed their PhD degree by the time the call closes. The same person cannot be the main applicant for more than one application in the call, but the same person can be a participating researcher for several applications.
Formas is tasked with pursuing a sustainable development of society. Crucial to such a development are equal opportunities and inclusion. We therefore encourage applicants to think as much as possible about designing the project so that it can provide knowledge that reflects and is relevant to different groups in society. We also encourage you to consider gender balance in the project team and including participants with different backgrounds and experiences. However, this will not be part of the assessment of your application at this time.
Before you apply
All information about the contents of an application, the application process and the assessment process can be found in the sections below.
Grants in this call can only be administered by a Swedish higher education institution, research institute, government agency with a research mandate, or other research-performing organisation.
To apply for a grant in this call, the following criteria must be met:
- The main applicant has completed their PhD degree by the time the call closes.
- Participating researchers have completed their PhD degree by the time the call closes. Other staff involved in the project do not need to have a PhD degree.
- The proposed grant recipient is stated as the project leader on the application.
- There is no upper age limit for the main applicant and participating researchers. However, researchers who are full-time pensioners are not eligible to receive funding towards salaries.
- People who are project leaders for other ongoing Formas projects can also apply for a grant. However, a person’s total funding must not exceed 100% of a full-time position.
When you apply for project funding, you can apply for a grant to cover both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include costs for salaries, equipment and travel. Indirect costs are costs that are shared with others in your organisation, such as for administration, IT and renting of premises. Indirect costs are sometimes called overhead.
International collaboration: Grants from Formas can be used to fund research conducted by researchers or other project participants who are employed at a higher education institution or research institute outside of Sweden. However, the research must be initiated and managed from Sweden. The administrating organisation must be located in Sweden and approved by Formas, and is responsible for hiring any foreign staff or paying for activities or services outside Sweden in accordance with the administrating organisation’s guidelines. Foreign participation in the project must be limited, well-defined and clearly explained in the project application.
Exceptions – research cooperation with Russia and Ukraine: Due to the war in Ukraine, it will not be possible to receive funds for projects involving research cooperation with state or federal research institutions in Russia or Belarus.
You can apply for funding for projects lasting 3 to 4 years (36 to 48 months), with a total maximum budget of SEK 6-10 million per project. The total budget for this call is SEK 120 million.
For this call, payment for the first fiscal year of the project will begin before the end of 2023. The project start is 1 December 2023 in Prisma and cannot be changed.
You should write your application in English, since the review panel that will assess your application 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 change the translation before the application proceeds to assessment. However, the popular science description must be written in Swedish, while the abstract should be in both Swedish and English. Your budget specification and CV will not be translated. So, 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.
According to Swedish law, your application and its appendices are considered as general public documents once they have been submitted to us. 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 possibilities to keep personal data confidential. Therefore, your application should not contain the personal data of anyone who is not included in the application.
The popular science description and project abstracts in Swedish and English will, if the project is awarded funding, be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these fields should not contain sensitive information.
We at Formas are eager to fund projects that maximise positive and minimise negative impacts on the environment and climate. We therefore encourage grant applicants to design their projects so that collaboration takes place primarily through online meetings and that any necessary travel takes place in a climate-smart way. We also suggest that you include measures that minimise energy use and other resource consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and waste in project planning. However, this will not be part of the assessment of your application at this time.
Please read about Formas’ own sustainability work External link..
How to apply
You apply for a grant in our application system, Prisma, where you add the information you need for your application. In Prisma, you must create a personal account.
All limits for the maximum number of characters refer to characters including spaces. We recommend that you choose the Arial font in font size 12 for the information you enter in all text boxes.
Your application must include a clear description of the project under the following sections:
- Number of years for which the application applies.
- Project title in Swedish and English (200 characters including spaces).
- Popular science description in Swedish (4,500 characters including spaces).
- Abstract in Swedish and English (1,500 characters each, including spaces).
The popular science description and project abstracts for awarded projects will be published in open-access project databases without a confidentiality review. Therefore, the contents of these fields should not contain sensitive information.
- Goals and objectives of the project, and a background description containing an overview of the research area (7,000 characters including spaces).
- Project description, including structure, theory, methodology and implementation as well as a plan for publication in a scientific journal (15,000 characters including spaces).
- Description of the project’s potential societal benefits (real-world impact) and the relevant stakeholders/users of the research, as well as how the research and its results are planned to be communicated with these stakeholders (8,000 characters including spaces).
- References included in-line under the points above should be entered in a separate field (5,000 characters including spaces).
You report the project budget in Prisma. Note that you should always write the budget and budget specification in English; any Swedish budget specification 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: 1 000 000 kronor.
The budget should include the following:
- Salaries, including social fees for each project participant. The total amount of the salary for a single researcher, PhD student or other staff must not exceed 100 percent of full-time employment. So, someone who already has full salary funding from any funding source cannot receive additional salary funding. Researchers who are full-time pensioners cannot receive funding for their own salary.
- 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 the participants contribute. It indicates whether the applicant is contributing 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. Specify these operating costs in accordance with practices at the administrating organisation.
- Equipment and depreciation costs. Specify costs for equipment and equipment depreciation if relevant to the application. The total maximum amount you can be granted for equipment and equipment depreciation costs is 500,000 kronor.
- You can apply for funding to cover the cost of premises if this is not already included as overhead in the project’s budget. Specify premises costs in accordance with the applicable practices at 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 refer to overhead costs. When you specify overhead costs in the application, you should do so according to the practice of the organisation that will manage the grant. If funds are to be transferred from the administrating organisation to another organisation involved in the project, the overhead cost of the receiving organisation can be applied to the funds transferred. Explain and report the different overhead costs in the budget specification. The total overhead for the project must be entered in the budget table. Formas does not grant funding for overhead costs that you write off for equipment or premises.
- Other costs refers to funds not sought but relevant to the completion of the project. An example is co-funding from partners or project funding from other sources.
- Total cost refers to a budget summary.
- 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 organisation if funds will be transferred to other organisations. Provide a brief justification for the salary expenses stated in the budget. All other costs must be justified, such as costs for participating in conferences, publication fees for open-access publications and data, and similar. A description of the total project budget, including funding from other sources, should also be included. The budget specification is part of the application assessment.
You should specify whether or not there are specific ethical concerns in your project. If so, state what these ethical concerns are and how you plan to manage them. Examples include research that uses personal data or research involving experiments on humans or animals. If not, briefly state why not.
If you are conducting research on humans or human tissue or are processing sensitive personal data, you must submit an application for ethical review to the Swedish Ethical Review Authority and have it approved. If you are conducting an animal experiment, you also need to obtain approval from a relevant animal ethics board. You can apply for approval through the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s online service.
You should state in your application whether or not you have obtained a valid ethical approval. If you have not obtained such approval and you are awarded a grant, you must obtain it before the described studies begin.
Formas uses the project’s classifications in analyses and supporting documentation on an overall level. The classifications are made when the applicant states the subject area, research subject (SCB code), at least one sustainable development goal 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 subjects and two sub-levels that together form the entire code.
- Sustainable development goals
Select at least one and up to three sustainable development goals (SDGs) the project can help to achieve, in order of relevance.
Enter at least 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. From the dropdown lists, select:
- Your administrating organisation
- The project site.
- The main applicant invites participating researchers to the application in Prisma.
- A participating researcher is a PhD researcher who is considered to be a co-applicant for the project.
- You can also have participating administrators who are not involved in the project but help you fill in the application form. Participating administrators cannot register the application; only the main applicant can.
- 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 leader and participating researchers retrieve the CV information from their personal account in Prisma and add it to the application. Applicants should review in good time that their CV in Prisma is complete and up-to-date. If the participating researchers have not accepted the invitation to participate or completed the required fields correctly, the main applicant will not be able to complete registration of the application. Participants who are not co-applicants are not able to attach CV information. Instead, their qualifications for the project should be described in the research programme.
The following CV information should be added to the application.
- Educational history
- Postgraduate studies
- Undergraduate and graduate education
- Professional history
- Current job and previous longer jobs that are relevant
- Postdoc assignments
- Research exchanges relevant to the proposed research
- Any significant gaps in the research (such as parental leave, illness, military service or political duties)
- Merits and awards
- Docentur (lectureships)
- Supervised persons: PhD students, postdocs, graduate thesis students; add either as an individual person or as a group. When adding a group, enter the total number for each category. When adding an individual person, name the most relevant ones (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, including summary of publications:
- List other merits that are relevant to the application, such as popular science publications and proven experience of 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 the total number of publications if the applicant’s active research period exceeds five years (max. 800 characters including spaces). This summary should include the following:
- The number of publications of various types, 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.
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 applicant’s personal profile in Prisma.
The following appendices can be uploaded if relevant for the application:
Appendix 1: Illustrations. If you need figures, tables or images to describe the project, you can upload them as attachments here. A maximum of one PDF attachment of 4 MB can be uploaded.
After submitting your application
First, Formas verifies that the application meets the procedural requirements set out in the call. If the application 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 leaders, project participants and organisations under “Applicant and organisation requirements” are met.
- The main applicant 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. Each application is read and evaluated by several members of the panel. The review panel is composed of practicing 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.
Applications are assessed with respect to scientific quality and societal relevance. This includes the following five criteria.
Criteria for scientific quality:
- Research question
- Scientific relevance of the purpose
- Originality and novelty of purpose, theory and hypotheses
- Possibility of scientifically significant results
- Whether the purpose is aligned with the call.
The assessors also look favourably upon multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches as they relate to the current research question. It is therefore important that you include these considerations in your application if they are relevant to your project.
- Method and performance
- Feasibility and suitability of the scientific method
- Whether the execution plan and timetable are well-defined and realistic
- Whether the publication and communication plan is well-defined and realistic
- The coordination of the project and research team
- The appropriateness of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, if these are chosen
- Whether the proposed research requires ethical considerations, and if so how the applicant plans to address them
- Whether the budget is reasonable relative to the project’s organisation and expected results.
Of these points, the feasibility and suitability of the scientific method carry the most weight.
- Scientific competence
Here, the review panel weighs the following:
- Scientific quality of publications
- Ability to complete the project according to plan
- Supervisory experience
- Project management experience
- National and international activities, including projects, networks, assignments, honorary assignments, and participation in or arranging workshops or conferences
- Interest, experience and ability to communicate the research and research results with stakeholders and users
- Strength and competitiveness of the research team.
The review panel assesses the quality of scientific publications with respect to standards within each discipline. The assessment focuses on the content and quality of the publications rather than on where they were published.
Publications are only part of what is factored into the criteria of scientific excellence. In their assessment, the reviewers also consider other forms of results achieved and experience. This includes, for example, the dissemination of knowledge, training, patents, products, or impact on policy.
The assessment takes into account relevant reasons for any gaps in research, such as parental leave or sick leave, that might have had an impact on the applicant’s overall productivity. So, the results and experience described by the applicant are assessed in relation to periods of active research.
Criteria for societal relevance:
- Societal value of research question
The review panel will assess how well your research proposal addresses the following four considerations:
- The research question addresses important issues in society within the call’s focus, nationally, internationally or both.
- The project can help to achieve sustainable development in the short or long term, nationally, internationally or both.
- In the project’s design, applicants consider the needs of stakeholders and/or users.
- The purpose of the research is aligned with the call.
Taking into account the needs of stakeholders or users can include references to directives, environmental objectives, the UN’s sustainable development goals and related targets, and discussions with the relevant stakeholders or users.
The terms “stakeholders” and “users” are broadly defined as beneficiaries or enablers of the research results. This includes stakeholders outside or inside the research community (depending on whether the project is of a more basic or more applied nature), nationally or internationally.
- Communication with stakeholders and users
The review panel assesses whether the application contains the following:
- A description of relevant stakeholders or users.
- A concrete and realistic plan for (a) the project’s involvement of relevant stakeholders or users and (b) the project’s plan for communicating the research and its results with the stakeholders or users.
Communication with stakeholders and users can take place in different ways and with different timeframes, depending on the research question. However, it should include various forms of dialogue with stakeholders and potential users of the research.
All the criteria must be addressed in the application, and we advise applicants to clearly relate their application to these criteria. We also advise applicants to clearly and accurately organise and formulate their applications, as the review is based solely on the information contained in the application.
The Formas Research Council expects to decide which projects will be awarded funding on 14 November 2023. We publish our decisions the following day at the latest on the Formas website and later by email from Prisma. Grant award decisions cannot be appealed.
All awarded projects must submit a report to Formas containing financial and project results within three months of the end of the grant availability period. For projects longer than 18 months, a financial statement must also be submitted to Formas annually. All reports are submitted in Prisma.
Formas may impose requirements on how projects must be reported in terms of content and results to enable distribution and application. In such cases, the award decision will contain more information about this. Formas may also require you to participate in conferences and similar 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 data management plan for the data produced in the project. 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.
Formas shares information about awarded grants to SweCRIS, a national database of grant-funded research that was instituted by request of the government.
Any changes to the call text are listed below.