European Foundations Unite to Tackle Global Challenges

Three of Europe's biggest philanthropic foundations have joined together to award 5 million euros to tackle some of the most pressing global challenges of our time: Wellcome Trust, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and Volkswagen Foundation have funded six research groups from across Europe to drive action through cross-border collaboration.

Viele scheinbar lokale Probleme wie die Urwald-Abholzung betreffen nicht nur das Land, in dem sie bestehen, sondern ganze Kontinente - und sind Thema der Förderprojekte. (Foto: Dikshajhingan via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Many seemingly local problems such as deforestation affect not only the land in which they exist but entire continents. Such topics fit into the funding initiative. (Photo: Dikshajhingan via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The announcement comes as the leading European foundations met together to discuss how they can share experience, best practice and work more closely together. The European foundations will also soon be meeting with Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, to discuss European philanthropy and research and how that might contribute and complement the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme as it is developed.

Millions of people in countries across the world are facing major challenges that affect their health, safety and livelihood. The world is tackling the largest refugee crisis since World War II and social inequality and extreme weather events threaten more lives. The scale of these issues means that no one nation can tackle them independently.

Six interdisciplinary research groups have been awarded funding for projects that range from understanding how asylum policies impact refugee decision-making, to strengthening climate action in the global south. Each partner will fund two projects directly.

The six projects that receive funding are:
  • Erik Berglöf at London School of Economics, to investigate where and how to best protect and integrate Syrian refugees.
  • Jenny Phillimore at the University of Birmingham, to explore sexual and gender-based violence in the refugee crisis.
  • Thomas Hale at the University of Oxford, to investigate how to strengthen non-state climate action in the global south.
  • Anders Levermann at the Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung, to investigate the impact of intensified weather extremes on Europe's economy.
  • Till Bärnighausen, Universitätsklinikum, Heidelberg, to investigate the ethics of health policy experiments and use this to develop a framework for design and oversight.
  • Sarah Hawkes at University College London, to investigate how to identify and implement policy responses for improving the sexual health of migrants and refugees.

 More details on the funded projects dan be found in our news

"Global Challenges in Focus: European Foundations Generate Incentives for International Research".

Der Klimawandel betrifft die gesamte Welt - und steht im Zentrum von zwei Förderprojekten bei "Europe and Global Challenges". (Foto: Jeanajean via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Climate change affects the entire world - and is at the center of two funding projects at "Europe and Global Challenges". (Photo: Jeanajean via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Göran Blomqvist, chief execute of

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, said: "Our cooperation is an explicit European initiative. The aim is to jointly fund research with a potential to widen the existing horizons and to open for new and unexpected perspectives. With the partnership, the three foundations wish to send a strong signal about their readiness to support and promote the new types of scholarly work that is necessary in disrupted and fragmented times."

Jeremy Farrar, Director of

Wellcome Trust, said: "The world is facing problems that cross borders, continents and nationalities. We want our solutions to reflect the nature of these issues, and by working together across Europe and beyond we can bring a collective voice and action. Only through international partnerships such as this can we hope to create real and tangible solutions for millions of people."

Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation, said: "We live in a world that faces numerous economic, environmental and social challenges that are globally interconnected such as climate change, social inequality, epidemics, terrorist attacks, to name only a few. In order to provide fundamental insights on understudied issues of global relevance, European foundations will cooperate across borders and jointly launch calls for proposals on respective topics. It is wonderful to see so much interest and enthusiasm of the European research foundation leaders for this endeavor."

The successful applicants were assessed by an international panel comprising researchers from all over the world, and from several different disciplines. Almost 300 applications were received from research groups from around the world, and 14 moved on to the second round.

Further information on the funding initiative "Europe and Global Challenges".