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Climate Cohort 2023/24 - Call for Early Career Researchers

A unique development opportunity for emerging climate researchers.

Introduction and purpose

In March 2023, we are launching the second Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort, funded by the British Council’s Going Global Partnerships.  

The Climate Cohort programme is designed to support the development of climate change-focused early career researchers, in relation to research-to-action, with the view to enhancing the contribution of science to national, regional, and international decision making in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Successful applicants will benefit from a bespoke one-year applied training and development programme, access to a global network of climate action collaborators, and support for co-creating a research project with policy and practice stakeholders.

Twenty places are available to early career researchers from 10 priority countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Application is a two-stage process, starting with an Expression of Interest.  

“The Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort is a home for nurturing passion for research in the climate space. My research interests and career have been permanently influenced for the better, as a result of what I call ‘The CFCRC advantage’. This is a rare opportunity for climate and environment researchers.”

Eric Boachie, University of Professional Studies, Ghana
Member of the 2021 Cohort

Eric Boachie Headshot

Benefits of the Cohort 

  • Connect, collaborate, and form partnerships with like-minded researchers from different contexts, cultures and disciplines.

  • Strengthen skills in designing and leading research-to-action projects, including academic supervision from leading climate change-related researchers at UK based higher education institutions.

  • Enhance visibility within your institution and with the wider research community, practitioners and policy makers within national and international climate changed focused fora.

Research Themes

The 2023-24 programme will focus on 5 key themes supported by an academic theme lead:

1. Water security in a changing world 

Nearly 80% of the global population is exposed to high levels of water security challenges, with climate change intensifying the water cycle, altering rainfall patterns, and consequently bringing more frequent and amplified hazards to human societies in many regions. This theme will therefore bring together researchers interested in ‘water security’, referring to sustainable access to sufficient quantity and satisfactory quality of water for livelihood and human wellbeing, for ecosystems, and for protecting against water-related disasters (UN-Water). Sub-themes include (1) Inequality of water security; (2) Water for ecosystems; (3) Water-related hazards. 

2. Climate law at national level 

Climate governance at national level is key to the delivery of a state’s nationally determined contributions to climate change adaptation and mitigation. While target-setting and accountability process happen through multilateral structures, international commitments will be actualised through individual states’ governance architecture. This requires a legal response, and most countries have now enacted some kind of climate legislation. However, these legal commitments need to be upheld, monitored and understood through legal and political institutions. This theme will focus on bringing together researchers interested in climate law at the national level, supporting country-specific investigations of how domestic climate governance – through law and institutional management – can support the achievement of climate mitigation and adaptation goals.

3. Urban adaptation and resilience

Urban resilience responses are emerging around the world that build the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of chronic stresses and acute shocks. This theme will bring together interdisciplinary researchers interested in urban resilience responses and their contribution to climate justice through action research approaches that study change processes. Sub-themes include: Social justice; policy and behavioural change; incentives for climate action.

4. Adapting to flooding and coastal change 

Sea-level rise and intensifying coastal storms as a result of climate change are understood to be exacerbating issues such as flooding and coastal erosion (EC). This research theme will bring together researchers interested in adapting to flooding and/or coastal change and will take a systems thinking approach to the essential stages of successful adaptation strategies, utilising interdisciplinarity to investigate the four sub-themes of the science-policy-implementation-evaluation nexus: (1) Climate change risk assessment; (2) The science to policy and planning process; (3) Implementing adaptation interventions; (4) Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of climate change adaptation actions. 

5. Digital governance and marginalised communities 

Digital governance is seen to have the potential to catalyse collaboration and improve equity within decision-making processes (Meijer et al. 2020). Yet digital governance is also a challenge for equity, potentially exacerbating established challenges of power, control and representativeness, while inviting new questions around the biases that can be built into digital infrastructure. Digital governance therefore is a challenge as well as an opportunity for climate change adaptation. As such, this theme will bring together researchers who are interested in investigating equity within climate change adaptation governance and decision-making processes, with a particular focus on how emerging digital infrastructure interacts with marginalised communities. Sub-themes include knowledge-power relations, recognition justice, marginalisation and political capability. 

Meet the 2023-24 Theme Leads

Programme Components

1. Participation in a training and development programme with the following features:

(a) A series of virtual workshops and asynchronous activities that provide the necessary skills and learning to effectively design and deliver a knowledge exchange project, engaging policy and practice stakeholders in the scoping of research projects (March-June 2023).

(b) Seed corn funding for the delivery of a knowledge exchange project (up to GBP 2,500 per project) engaging policy and practice stakeholders in the scoping of research projects, delivered in collaboration with other cohort members and supported by a UK-based senior academic and a climate knowledge broker (July-November 2023).

(c) Opportunity to apply for one conference travel grant of up to GBP 1,500 to support attendance and engagement with a national, regional, or international climate action-related event/conference (to be used between October 2023 and September 2024).

(d) Inter-generational academic mentorship for career and professional development support (April 2023-March 2024).

2. Co-creating a research project with policy and practice stakeholders:

(a) Participation in a transdisciplinary research sandpit (January 2024).

(b) Grant writing training and grant writing support during an internal programme research grant call (January-March 2024).

(c) The opportunity to submit a proposal for an internal programme research grant call and receive a grant of up to GBP 50,000 for a 6-month research-to-action project (January-March 2024).

3. Selected research projects delivered between April and October 2024 (please note that this is a competitive call, and we cannot guarantee that all research projects will be selected for delivery).


To be eligible to apply as an early career researcher for the 2023-24 programme, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Applicant is an ‘early career researcher’, meeting the following definition: a post-doctoral researcher with no more than 8 years of post-doctoral research experience, working in the broad field of climate change adaptation and/or mitigation, or enrolled on a PhD at the time of application and has demonstrable experience of leadership and research in the field of climate change adaptation and/or mitigation, who is in a funded research role until at least December 2025.

  • Applicant is employed at an accredited higher education institution which is legally incorporated and situated in one of the priority countries (Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia, Pakistan).

  • Application is written in English.

  • Application includes a letter of support from their Head of Department or equivalent authority (a draft support letter is available here).

  • Application is submitted by the deadline articulated in the application form.

The ACU encourages applications from all individuals regardless of age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and marriage and civil partnerships.

Please note that the programme will not provide financial support to cover applicants everyday work duties. By submitting an application, you are confirming that you are committed to participating fully in the above activities.

How to apply 

Recruitment of Cohort members will be done through a two-stage process. The first stage is the submission of an Expression of Interest. The second is a full application.

For both stages, you will need an ACU account. If you don't already have an account, you will need to set one up by clicking 'Get Started', in the top right-hand corner of the application login page.

1. Expression of Interest (EOI)

In order to be eligible to apply for the programme, you must submit an EOI by 16:00 on Friday 3 February 2023. The EOI is mandatory to proceed to the full application and EOIs will not be accepted after this deadline. 

The EOI will ask for the following details:

  • Applicant’s personal and professional details
  • Applicant’s research discipline and the programme theme they intend to apply to
  • How the applicant fits within the category of ‘early career researcher’ as defined by this programme (see above eligibility criteria)
  • A letter of support from the applicant’s Head of Department/Institute (or relevant authority). View a sample letter
  • An indication of the applicant’s proposed academic mentor or if they require support with identifying a mentor

If EOIs are submitted before the EOI deadline, applicants can proceed to the full application at any time during the application window.

Your EOI will be reviewed as per the eligibility criteria and upon acceptance you will be sent the link to complete the full application form.


Submit your Expression of Interest

2. Full Application

For the second stage of the process, candidates will be asked to complete a standardised application form. If your Expression of Interest meets the eligibility criteria, you will be sent a link to complete this.

    1. Applicant’s personal and professional details
    2. Research background
    3. Curriculum Vitae (CV) (up to 2 A4 pages)
    4. 6 statements detailing the applicant’s motivation and commitment to participating in the programme and it’s related activities and intended outcomes

Full applications should be submitted by 16:00 UTC on 23 February 2023. Applications submitted after this deadline will not be considered.

Selection Criteria

  • Research expertise and track record in relation to the applicant’s indicated primary area of research.

  • Relevance of applicant’s research discipline to addressing challenges related to one of the programme research themes.

  • The applicant’s motivation for participating in this programme in relation to their career aspirations and advancing their field of research.

  • The applicant’s track record and commitment to engaging non-academic stakeholders from different societal sectors in research design and delivery for impact.

  • The applicant’s track record and commitment to both international and interdisciplinary research.

  • The applicant’s commitment to cascading learning from the programme within their home institution.

If you have any questions, please email

The Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Cohort is a partnership project designed and delivered by the ACU and funded by the
British Council.

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