This focused fellowship opportunity is to help to actively engage the NERC and wider academic research community, and resources within that community, with the developing process of the TNFD.
The Finance for Nature KE Fellowships will be expected to:
- work closely with Finance for Biodiversity (F4B)
- contribute to the ambition of the opportunity by enabling the sharing, flow and translation of knowledge and expertise between academic experts from environmental sciences and other relevant disciplines and their stakeholders, partners and user communities.
The high-level approach to the work should be proposed by the applicants but is likely to evolve in line with the programme of TNFD action. Generating practical and also scientifically robust research will be core to TNFD’s success.
Nature’s relationship with other sustainable development agendas such as climate change, economic activities, employment and food security is complex. Linking this complexity to a usable framework to inform financing decisions by many actors regarding diverse economic activities in varied nature endowments and policy circumstances is increasingly urgent.
Two emerging TNFD work streams are:
- financing the transition to an inclusive, sustainable, healthy food system
- an integrated climate-nature transition risk framework.
A sense of the focus of these workstreams is given below.
Financing the transition to an inclusive, sustainable, health food system
There is a strong requirement to understand the implications of ‘success’ in internalising nature and climate risks into financial decisions making for a future food system transition.
An urgent need for internalisation of nature is likely to widely impact production methods, change asset prices (including land) and impact employment and the availability of affordable nutrition, with positive and negative cascade effects over the entire food system.
Integrated climate-nature transition risk framework
Building nature into financial decision-making, as with climate, requires effective risk assessment over extended periods of time, notably during the so-called ’transition’ to a net zero and nature positive economy.
Whilst this has progressed in relation to net zero, such a framework is lacking for nature-positive outcomes. Nature-positive outcomes are outcomes that will contribute to halting and reversing nature loss.
Complicated by its greater complexity, a lack of a single measurable goal (such as 1.5 degrees), and the complex climate-nature nexus, there is a need to consider nature not in isolation, but in an integrated transition risk framework alongside the existing progress on a net-zero transition.
Research is required to build on the experience of climate transition pathways and initial work on nature positive linked financial risk assessment to invent, conceptualise and develop a framework on solid theoretical building blocks, with considered practical application for the policy, regulatory and financial communities.
Programme requirements and scope
These fellowships can be focused on any theme or activity arising from research relevant to the TNFD process and user community, and proposals from applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds are encouraged. It is understood that in some cases a mix of funding will lead to an opportunity to generate impact.
The applicant should have the committed support of the head of department or school and an enthusiasm for knowledge exchange should be apparent through the application.
NERC KE Fellowships are expected to focus on accelerating and amplifying impact throughout the cycle of research, by engaging and working with:
- user communities
- business intermediaries.
In the case of this directed opportunity, engagement with F4B as co-chairs of the technical expert group for TNFD is expected, but other relevant stakeholders may be included
Impact is defined according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) definition as “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia”.
Approaches could include:
- strengthening existing partnerships with stakeholders
- developing new relationships that lead to collaborative projects
- identification of the knowledge needs of business, non-governmental organisations and policy makers
- researching new market opportunities for the exploitation of research outcomes
- providing briefings and reports suitable for policymakers and business users.
Examples of activities that may be supported
Developing relationships, for example with business
These could be developed with the aim of interpreting their environmental science needs, demonstrating the potential offered by the latest research or developing an exchange of resources. These can be non-cash based.
Spending time embedded within a partner host organisation
For example, with:
- national government departments
- local government
- third party sector
- private organisations.
Gaining understanding of their needs and working with them on translating research into tools.
Substantial amounts of data is generated from research and often published in ways that are not easily available or meaningful to potential users. The KE Fellows could be employed to develop data into meaningful outputs, such as for businesses to use.
Convening meetings and workshops of stakeholders or expert advisors
For example, working with non-governmental organisations, government and the private sector to exchange skills and techniques and to provide input to design or delivery of the work.
KE translators and facilitators
Leading as a facilitator to move between the research base and the user community (such as the TNFD) to act as a focal point for a range of activities to improve knowledge exchange can be useful. In some cases, it may be essential to help businesses define the questions that they want to ask academics.
Other approaches are welcome.
KE Fellowships should not be used to support:
- activity that is solely for the purpose of knowledge exchange between different sections of the academic research base
- provision of external training
- activities which are not free at the point of access for public audiences
- impact generating activity which is not linked to NERC or UKRI research
- generic public engagement with science (not research).
The total budget is up to £300,000. This will fund two to three fellowship awards.
Finance for Nature KE Fellowships cover up to 100% of the fellow’s salary on a pro rata basis including superannuation, national insurance and specific allowances, plus up to £40,000 for travel and other associated costs. They cover direct costs only and do not include overheads.
There is no budget limit for salary costs.
Applicants can apply for travel and subsistence costs for stakeholders to attend meetings or events. However, applicants cannot pay them to attend, for example, meeting attendance fees.
Awards will be for six months in the first instance, with the potential to extend by a further six months subject to funding (not guaranteed at this stage). The fellowship must start by 1 February 2021.
Due to the ongoing nature of the work, NERC are exploring opportunities for collaborative continuation funding which will be communicated in due course.
The Finance for Nature KE Fellowship can be held part time or full time as appropriate to delivering the project and to all parties (ideally 40% to 100% of their time). Applicants should fully justify their choice of %FTE requested.
The NERC data policy (PDF, 138KB) must be adhered to and an outline data management plan produced as part of proposal development. As datasets may include information from engagement activities with members of the public, NERC can help to make arrangements for these to be managed in an appropriate data centre.
NERC will pay the data centre directly on behalf of the programme for archival and curation services, but applicants should ensure they request sufficient resource to cover preparation of data for archiving by the research team.
It is not expected that KE Fellowships will require NERC facilities. If the applicant wishes to use a NERC service or facility, they should email email@example.com with full details before submitting an application, in addition to following the usual facilities requirements.
There may be opportunities to connect with the wider network of NERC funded fellows to share best practice and with other relevant programmes. Current fellows can be found listed on the Gateway to Research page or on Grants on The Web.
Proposals should also consider the sustainability of the project (although this will not be part of the formal assessment criteria) in-line with NERC’s approach. Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment, not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.
All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set-out in the NERC responsible business statement (PDF, 462KB).
Responsible research is defined as reducing harm and enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:
- the natural environment
- the local community
- equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
Grant holders should consider the responsible research context of their project, not the host institution as a whole and take action to enhance their responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.
The Good Research Resource Hub can be used as a resource to support development of responsible research.
When planning KE Fellow activities, applicants should actively consider how they will address specific needs in the context of EDI and underrepresented groups. This should align with the key legal requirements underpinning this important area of consideration. Applicants should:
- ensure engagement and KE Fellowship plans address issues of EDI
- ensure consideration of imagery used in activities that they develop, ensuring it is diverse and inclusive so that the public and external stakeholders see environmental science as an inclusive, welcoming community
- consider the accessibility needs of people they work with to ensure that everyone who wants to is able to engage with NERC engagement activity, for example:
- wheelchair accessibility of venues
- British Sign Language translation where appropriate
- timing of events with respect to travel for those with caring commitments.
Information about UKRI’s approach to EDI.