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

Jun 19 '17

Climate, migration, global health – the funding initiative "Europe and Global Challenges" supported jointly by Volkswagen Foundation, Wellcome Trust, and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond grants a total amount of 5 million euro for cross-border interdisciplinary projects in the humanities and social sciences.

This bus stop in Worms was under water during the 2013 floods in central Europe. (Foto: Jivee Blau via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

This bus stop in Worms was under water during the 2013 floods in central Europe. (Foto: Jivee Blau via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Heat waves, flooding, tropical storms – climate change and its consequences belong just as much as international migration, demographic change or social inequality to the pressing challenges facing society that can only be overcome through collective action on a global scale. The funding initiative "Europe and Global Challenges" supported by Volkswagen Foundation, Wellcome Trust (Great Britain) and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Sweden) incentivizes scholars in the humanities and social sciences to implement interdisciplinary projects on these topics in collaboration with researchers in regions outside Europe.

In the current call in the initiative, the Foundations have granted a total of 5.13 million euro for six projects centering on the topics "Climate", "Migration", and "Health". Three of these projects are being carried out with the participation of German research institutions. The two projects funded by the Volkswagen Foundation are the following:

The impact of Climate Change on the European Economy

Regional events caused by extreme weather conditions, like the floods of 2013 or the heat wave in 2003, not only have a direct impact on the economy, but also indirect repercussions for Europe’s manifold international trade and economic relations. The cooperation project "Impact of Intensified Weather Extremes on Europe’s Economy" – under the participation of Prof. Dr. Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research as well as research partners in the USA and Australia – is investigating the effects of extreme weather on the economy; for there can be little doubt that we will increasingly be facing such weather events in future.

The team is researching possible future scenarios of European economic development and trade relations up to the year 2050. On the basis of a numerical model for calculating the extent of economic damage, they want to assess the direct as well as indirect effect of weather extremes on the European economy and develop possible adaptation strategies. The Volkswagen Foundation is supporting the project with 784,900 euro.

Non-State Measures of Climate Protection in the Global South

The Volkswagen Foundation is supporting the project "Strengthening Non-State Climate Action in the Global South" with 750,000 euro. It is led by Dr. Thomas Hale, University of Oxford, with partners in Germany, India, and Kenya. The research team is investigating non-state measures of climate protection implemented in the context of so-called "transnational climate governance" (TCG) initiatives. TCGs can be cities, private enterprises or civil-society groups, for example, that initiate measures of climate protection parallel to national government action. However, TCGs tend to be concentrated on the Global North, thus bypassing the less-developed regions of the world. These regions, though, will in future not only account for the major part of emissions that adversely impact the climate, but they will also be the most drastically affected by the consequences of climate change.

The project participants are focusing on the scarcely researched efficacy of TCG initiatives in the Global South, on a regional as well as on the global level. The results should enhance our understanding of the factors that determine the success of TCG projects and how non-state actors in the Global South can best contribute towards managing and mitigating the consequences of climate change.

Overview of other funded projects

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Schweden):

"Sexual and Gender-based Violence in the Refugee Crisis: Vulnerabilities, Inequalities and Responses"
Prof. Dr. Jenny Phillimore, University of Birmingham, Institute for Research into Superdiversity

"The Responsible Deal: Where and How to Best Protect and Integrate Syrian Refugees?"
Prof. Erik Berglöf, The London School of Economics and Political Science, Institute of Global Affairs, London

"Identifying and Implementing Appropriate and Effective Public Policy Responses for Improving the Sexual Health of Migrants and Refugees"
Prof. Dr. Sarah Hawkes, University College London, Institute for Global Health

Wellcome Trust (Großbritannien):

"The Ethics of Health Policy Experiments: A Global Framework for Design and Oversight"
Prof. Dr. Till Bärnighausen, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Institute of Public Health

The Funding Initiative "Europe and Global Challenges"

For details on the initiative, please see "Europe and Global Challenges".