This call is now closed. The following is for information only.

The Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) call is a comprehensive and concerted research initiative to boost research on transformations to sustainability, and catalyse new kinds of solutions to environmental and social challenges.

Climate change, environmental degradation and resource pressures have created unprecedented situations for societies worldwide. In particular, Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) are likely to be disproportionately affected by this. Attempts to tackle the challenges associated with sustainability through conventional knowledge and capacity building have had some positive impacts, but are ultimately not fully adequate.

Consequently, there is growing attention to the need for more fundamental transformations in the way societies interact with each other and with the natural environment as the basis for sustainability. Societal transformations refer to profound and enduring systemic changes that typically involve social, cultural, technological, political, economic, and environmental processes. 

T2S will be implemented as a Belmont Forum Collaborative Research Action (CRA) in cooperation with the NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agencies Cooperation in Europe) network and the International Social Science Council (ISSC).

The programme is supported by funding agencies from Belgium, Brazil, Chinese Taipei, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, and has secured additional top-up funding from the European Commission. The ISSC is participating with dedicated funding for low- and lower-middle-income countries. Researchers from low- and middle-income countries are also eligible as co-investigators on projects funded by the ESRC, who  will be representing the UK in this partnership.


The programme is structured around three themes:

  1. Governance and institutional dimensions of transformations to sustainability 
  2. Economy and finance of transformations to sustainability
  3. Wellbeing, quality of life, identity, and social and cultural values in relation to transformations to sustainability

Proposals must address one or more of the three call themes, and must involve at least three national research teams, eligible to the funding of three different T2S funders (see call for proposals document for details). In order to be eligible for ESRC funding, in addition to the UK team the project team should involve at least one other national research team eligible for funds provided by the European Commission (see Appendix 1 of the call for proposals). The total funding requested from the T2S partners must not exceed €1,500,000 across all participating countries.

Call documents

Please read all of the call documents when preparing your application. These documents are available on the NORFACE website.

We have also produced some FAQs (PDF, 118Kb) to help UK applicants with their proposals.

How to apply

Proposals to the T2S research programme will be processed in two stages.

Outline proposals

In the first stage, outline proposals are invited with a deadline of 17.00 (EST) / 22.00 (UK time) on 5 April 2017

Outline proposals should be submitted in PDF format and must be submitted via the GO BF online portal. Guidance on how to submit the proposal is available on the portal, and also on the NORFACE T2S website.

Full proposals

Following an assessment and shortlisting process, the ‘Main Applicants’ (principal investigators) of successful outline proposals will then be invited to submit a full proposal.

It is anticipated that applicants will be notified of the outcome of their outline submission in late June 2017, with a deadline for submission of full proposals in September 2017. The T2S board expects to make final funding decisions in April 2018.

UK requirements

In addition to the core call requirements, UK-led research teams must also adhere to the UK-specific requirements. UK-led research teams can apply for up to €500,000 per project. The team must be led by a principal investigator based at an eligible research organisation in the UK.


The ESRC’s contribution to this call is being funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). All UK proposals to this call must therefore meet the eligibility requirements of GCRF in addition to the general call requirements as set out in the call for proposals document. GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

All UK proposals must therefore make a clear case for how they comply with ODA guidelines. In order to be considered eligible for funding, all proposals must demonstrate that their main objective is the promotion of the economic development and welfare of countries on the DAC list.


Academic co-investigators from established international research organisations (outside of the participating country partners) can be included in the research teams, subject to meeting the requirements outlined in ESRC’s guidance on inclusion of international co-investigators.

Business, third sector or government body co-investigators based in the UK can also be included in UK-led projects under this call, in accordance with ESRC policy.

Further information on requirements and restrictions for co-investigators can be found in the UK annex of the call for proposals document.

Standard ESRC research funding terms and conditions apply to this call.