Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: place-based approaches to sustainable living

Future opportunity to apply for funding to research place-based approaches for an environmentally sustainable future and support evidence-based decision making.

Desired outcomes include:

  • enhanced understanding of environmental challenges and solutions from a place-based perspective in order to develop findings, tools and theories, which can be applied by local and national policymakers, communities and practitioners
  • co-produced solutions to achieving an environmentally sustainable future

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £2,000,000 and last for up to 5 years. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

This is a pre-announcement, and information may change.

The funding opportunity will open in April 2023. More information will be available on this page by then.

Who can apply

Standard ESRC eligibility rules apply.

The principal investigator for this funding opportunity must be based at an organisation eligible for ESRC funding for the duration of the grant.

Eligible organisations are:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UK Research and Innovation-approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity

Check if your institution is eligible for funding.

What we're looking for

ESRC is looking for proposals that deliver interdisciplinary research on place-based approaches for an environmentally sustainable future, which will enable enhanced evidence-based decision making. This might include consideration of:

  • the circular economy, resource efficiency, and material, energy and environmental conservation linked to specific locales
  • the role and interaction of diverse factors that combine in a place and their influence on sustainability, for example:
    • behaviour
    • education
    • employment
    • housing
    • transport
    • lifestyles
    • local environments
    • trade-offs
    • access to, and role of, digital technology or locally produced essentials
  • the impact, effect and longevity of common, multilevel and experimental governance on a place (for example, levelling up initiatives) and how local and place-based bottom-up approaches interact with national and policy-driven top-down approaches

Proposals should:

  • shape policy and practice at a local level
  • outline their approach to spatial and temporal transferability and scalability
  • address the ‘just transition’ and consider how place-based approaches can address multiple and systemic inequalities
  • maximise the governance relationships between civil society bodies, local authorities, central and devolved administrations

The opportunity allows for proposals covering a wide range of areas, scales and themes surrounding place-based approaches.  At least 50% of the proposed programme of research must fall within ESRC’s remit.

Proposals submitted to this opportunity will need to meet the following requirements to be eligible:

  • an interdisciplinary, innovative approach to addressing place-based challenges, which delivers impactful systems-based solutions
  • a co-produced approach to place-based issues, which identifies mechanisms for wider impact through community engagement and provision for building capacity and capability in communities and with networks at different scales.
  • potential to deliver transformative change through theoretical or practical solutions to address issues at a local level and potential to scale up
  • be able to provide actionable knowledge throughout and beyond the lifetime of the grant
  • smart use of data, recontextualising existing data and new research, where appropriate
  • include interventions that consider wider impact, for example intersectionality, spill-over effects, co-benefits and potential impacts for people, nature and environments

ESRC expects to support several strategic large research grants, running for 5 years from a start date of 1 April 2024. The full economic cost of each project can be up to £2,000,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

This opportunity is due to open in April 2023 and information may change.

How to apply

Full guidance on how to apply will be published on the funding finder in April 2023.

How we will assess your application

The assessment of applications will be a 2-stage process:

  • outline proposal stage
  • full proposal stage

Outline proposals will be assessed and shortlisted by an assessment panel. Shortlisted applicants will subsequently be invited to submit applications to the full proposal stage.

Contact details

Ask about this funding opportunity

ESRC Environment Team


Enquiries about this announcement can be sent to this email. However, we will not be able to provide additional information about the opportunity in advance of its publication.

Additional info

Please note that this opportunity will be running concurrently with the ‘Resilient UK Coastal Communities and Seas’ opportunity and the ESRC Centre competition on ‘Sustainable and equitable low-carbon living’.

Please consider which opportunity would be the most suitable to apply for.

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