The GCBC Research Grant Competition 2 (RGC2) is now officially open for applications!

The GCBC Research Grant Competition 2 (RGC2) is now officially open for applications!

The GCBC Research Grant Competition 2 (RGC2) is now officially open for applications!

The Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC) is a UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme that funds research into nature-based solutions to climate change and poverty reduction.

We are pleased to announce the official launch of the GCBC second Research Grant Competition (RGC2)!

Theme – Unlocking Nature: Driving innovation in how biodiversity can support climate resilience and sustainable livelihoods through practice and governance

For this call, we are looking for project concepts with a total budget between £100k and £1m (GBP) and a duration of 12 – 36 months, commencing from November 1, 2024. There is scope for different sizes (£100k-£250k; £250k-£500k; £500-£750k; £750-£1m) depending on the type or nature of the research to be funded. This will range from the smaller desk-based and locally focused projects to larger initiatives with research replicated in different localities/ countries and upscaling/ replicating proven solutions in an innovative approach.

GCBC invites project concept submissions that focus their research at the intersection of the GCBC’s three focus areas:

  • Climate change
  • Livelihoods and poverty alleviation
  • Biodiversity

The call will fund a portfolio of projects in ODA-eligible countries in the programme’s three focus regions (Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Pacific, and Sub-Saharan Africa), including Small Island Developing States (SIDS); which address the evidence gaps and from which the learning, solutions, tools, and methodology can be upscaled and replicated in other regions or countries.

We are looking for submissions that include novel and innovative approaches and project proposals relevant to the overarching theme and related sub-themes. View the Theme Paper

Throughout the application period, potential applicants are invited to join our informative webinars.

Register here for our next webinar

Applications are now officially open! The closing date for receipt of applications for Stage 1 is 17:00hrs GMT on March 17th, 2024.

Apply Now

Related resources:

Theme paper: This paper sets out the rationale and background for the theme of the second GCBC Research Grant Competition (RGC2) and the sub-themes where there are opportunities for interventions, that can make a difference in applying a systems approach. View the Theme Paper

Research strategy: This Research Strategy sets out the vision through the theory of change and ambition for a systems approach (Section 2) for the GCBC programme to ensure that new scientific evidence, knowledge and partnerships developed support the poor directly or indirectly, with improved livelihoods and resilience to climate change, while sustainably managing and using biodiversity. View the Research Strategy

RGC2 Stage 1 – ITA Overview: Download here

Project Concept Note Form (offline copy): Download here

GCBC Privacy Policy: Download here

RGC2 List of Eligible Countries: Download here

Webinar resources:

Webinar 1: Introducing the RGC2 theme (January 22, 29)

Download the webinar recording here

Download the slide deck here

Webinar 2: Walkthrough the RGC2 concept note, application process, & e-platform (February 5)

Download the webinar recording here

Download the slide deck here








Nature Transition Support Programme (NTSP project)

Countries: Colombia and Ecuador

Partners: UK: UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC); Colombia: Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute; Ecuador: Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INABIO); US: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), University of Minnesota

Summary: The Nature Transition Support Programme (NTSP) is an ambitious research programme aiming to support partner countries identify pathways towards an economy that is embedded within nature, as articulated by the Dasgupta Review. NTSP engages a combination of UK-based and global experts, in-country specialists as well as representatives from partner governments to make the case for an economic transition, developing a set of options for sustainable growth based on predicted impacts to natural capital and prosperity of different approaches to land use.



Safeguarding biodiversity and climate resilience (SABIOMA project)

Country: Argentina

Partners: UK: UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology; Argentina: University of Buenos Aires, The National University of Córdoba, The National University of Tucuman, The Catholic University of Salta

Summary: SABIOMA looks to develop integrative solutions to design nature-based solutions that promote biodiversity, increase resilience to climate change and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in Argentina’s agro-ecosystems.

Related links: SABIOMA

Impacts of kelp harvesting for marine biodiversity and ecosystem services (KELPER2 project)

Countries: Argentina, Chile, Peru

Partners: UK: Newcastle University, Marine Biological Association, Scottish Association for Marine Science; Latin America: IMARPE (Peru), IBIOMAR (Argentina), Catholic University of Chile (Chile)

Summary: Wild kelp harvesting is an important industry in Latin American countries, especially in Chile and Peru, with over 40% of global brown algal landings originating from these two countries and where over 13,000 people are directly employed by the industry. With previous work showing that poorly managed kelp harvesting alters the structure and formation of kelp forests, KELPER2 aims to explore the drivers that reduce the resilience of kelp forests and their blue carbon potential to different sustainable harvesting regimes.

Optimising the long-term management of invasive species affecting biodiversity and the rural economy using adaptive management (CONTAIN project)

Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile

Partners: UK: University of Aberdeen, Queen’s University Belfast; Latin America: Unesp (São Paulo State University, Brazil), CONICET (Argentina), Centro de Humedales Río Cruces (Chile), Agricultural and Livestock Service – SAG (Chile)

Summary: The CONTAIN project works across the Latin America region with the aim of realising the multiple environmental, social, and economic benefits and co-benefits of managing Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in a cost-effective manner. The project’s objectives are to:

  • Move from efficacy to efficiency when evaluating IAS management, by considering wider costs and benefits associated with each management action, such as those that scale up with the number of invaders and costs associated with ecosystem services changes brought about by IAS.
  • Rigorously evaluate empirically and through modeling under what circumstances invasive trees deliver valuable carbon sequestration ecosystem service that could be traded-off against the loss of carbon above and below ground, by native plant communities, loss of biodiversity, and ecosystem service and resilience. Hence informing a lively ongoing debate on the pros and cons of carbon sequestration by invasive trees, a potential nature-based solution.
  • Evaluate how incentives, compensation for the loss of income, and sources of income may contribute to the sustainability of participatory control of IAS for rural communities so heavily affected by IAS that their livelihoods are in peril.

A trait-based understanding of Latin American biodiversity programme forest biodiversity and resilience (ARBOLES project)

Countries: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru

Partners: UK: 4 universities (Leeds, Lancaster, Oxford and Imperial College London) and the Natural History Museum; Latin America: Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (Argentina), Universidad Austral de Chile (Chile), National Institute for Space Research (Brazil), Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana (Peru)

Summary: The Amazon rainforest occupies a uniquely important place in the Earth System. Spanning an area of 5.5 million km, the Amazon’s forests are the most biodiverse on the planet, absorb 5-10% of global CO2 emissions and sustain rainfall regionally.  However, the invaluable ecosystem and climate services provided by Amazon rainforests are currently under severe threat from deforestation and changing climate. Concerns have been raised that continued forest loss and climate change may lead to a tipping point, beyond which forests would no longer be sustained and replaced by savanna vegetation. The global change threat to the Amazon is most pronounced in southern Amazonia, where deforestation, maximum temperature increases and reduced dry season rainfall have been markedly more pronounced than other Amazon regions.  An understanding of how forests in southern Amazonia are changing and of their sensitivity to global change stressors is imperative for improved prediction and for climate-smart conservation of Amazon forests more generally. ARBOLES aims to understand the plant functional trait basis of LATAM forest biodiversity and resilience, by investigating the sensitivity of important southern Amazonian tree species to two key climatic stressors, heat and drought.


Piloting a living laboratory approach to sustainable agriculture

Country: Colombia

Partners: TerraViva Consortium- Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Fundacion Natura, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)

Summary: Integrated landscape approaches have emerged as a spatial unit for holistically managing various land uses and stakeholder needs within a region. It is a governance strategy that acknowledges the interdependencies of human and natural systems and seeks to optimise synergies and minimise trade-offs to harmonise wellbeing of rural communities with their environment. TerraViva is an emerging landscape management initiative, piloted in coffee-dominated landscape in the Gaitania area of Tolima Colombia to support the creation of a holistic plan with embedded platforms of good governance, wellbeing, livelihoods and traditional leadership to support small scale producers and their communities adapt to climate change and live in harmony with nature. The goal of TerraViva is to create a long-term development vision or Common Territorial Agenda (CTA) built from the perspective of local stakeholders that leads to a collection of solutions to meet both production, and environmental goals of the territory.

Watch ‘SAN TerraViva’ by Sustainable Agriculture Network

TerraViva Sustainable Landscape Approach (TerraViva project)

Gaitania, a coffee-growing community of the municipality of Planadas in the southern Tolima department of Colombia, is marked by several challenges: a prevailing monocropping production system for washed Arabica coffee, unsustainable agricultural practices, a complex history of social armed conflict, and a lack of access to markets. The absence of a landscape approach also makes decisions regarding biodiversity, climate change, and livelihoods a farm-by-farm issue at the will of each producer.

This project aims to foster a sustainable landscape approach in a post-conflict region. With initial GCBC R&D funding, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and its partners sought to understand the situational context of the Gaitania region and the interactions of governance structures, communities, and socio-economic factors with the interconnected patchwork of different land uses, ecosystems, and land cover. Research entailed mapping all relevant stakeholders that play a role in the landscape and interviewing them at length. This includes political actors, farmer organisations and cooperatives, the local environmental regulator agency, and smallholder producers from the villages which are represented by essential governance bodies called Community Action Boards. Representatives from these communities also took part in workshops where the TerraViva consortium deployed a Community Capitals Framework (CCF) research approach which allowed the consortium to view the various elements, resources, and relationships within a community from a systems perspective.

The CCF focused mainly on the assets of a community rather than on community needs and deficits. It divides a communities’ assets into natural, human, social, cultural, built, financial, and political capitals and focuses on the interaction among the seven capitals and the resulting impacts across them. Guiding questions helped the community take an appreciative approach to analyse the various capitals and how they could be leveraged to strengthen or generate more assets. Additional efforts to understand the context of Gaitania’s coffee production included the mapping of the coffee value chain, drone-assisted cartography, and desk research using secondary data sources. A study to determine the applicability of a payment for ecosystem services model in the context of the Colombian regulations and institutions was also carried out.

Positive Impacts

Culminating with a participatory multi-stakeholder dialogue, the research results will lead to the creation of a Common Territorial Agenda – a long-term development vision built from the perspective of local stakeholders to enable innovative, systemic interventions by balancing environmental, social, and economic goals of the region’s stakeholders. However, the exploratory process itself has already yielded positive impacts with the community. The differentiated approach taken to build solutions – by recognising the community’s preponderant role in the decision making to build the Common Territorial Agenda – opened spaces for smallholder producers to think broadly and collectively about the state and future of their landscape.

The CCF workshops also raised local awareness of the opportunitiesthat Gaitania’s many assets present for the community’s development and of the negative environmental and social impacts of coffee farming and production caused by the current practices implemented by smallholder farmers. Further impacts will occur once the Common Territorial Agenda is implemented and will be measurable in the long term. 


Transportation was the greatest challenge faced during the implementation of the research project due the distances from Gaitania to the main population center of Planadas and each of the villages. Difficulties were compounded by the poor state of the roads and variable weather. Travelling by day and having a local informant that could report on the weather conditions were important mitigating factors to address these challenges. Given the history of armed conflict in the area, additional safety measures were implemented, however, safety issues were not present during the work performed in situ. Maintaining constant contact with Community Action Board presidents to monitor potential safety issues was also important.

The project encountered participation challenges by two of the six villages targeted to take part in the pilot project. The lack of participation was largely owed to post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding efforts that included many unsuccessful international cooperation pilot projects that lacked sustainability and impactful results. Identifying the community capitals using the CCF was an important approach to differentiate this project and help with future plans. Maintaining a strong local presence in the Gaitania was also an important way to build rapport and trust with locals and community leaders.

Lessons learnt and next steps

This research project was designed to be replicable in many productive landscapes and tested in a complex region like Gaitania precisely to increase its replicability. As landscapes are social constructs, building trust with the targeted community is pivotal to ensure continued and active community engagement. This demands local presence, constant communication with community leaders, transparency during the process, and communication of results. Understanding the local context is also a critical factor for project success.

In a community like Gaitania, historical complexities can interfere with the technical aspects of project implementation. Therefore, social awareness and sensibility are necessary for productive and respectful interactions between field staff and community members.