UN Research Grant Recommendation

The United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund (UNPDF) is accepting proposals to fund education research activities in support of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 Since its inception, UNPDF has supported projects and activities around the world by developing and implementing programmes to strengthen national capacities in integrating economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection targeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UNPDF and China the donor government aim to work together to achieve the goals of the Charter of the United Nations through implementation of innovative, forward-looking and pro-active projects and activities financed by the Trust Fund. We believe that international collaboration is vital to achieving Education for Sustainable Development.  The ESD Research grant will support collaborative research work for professionals and academic staff of universities in developing countries.

Focus Area of Research

Proposed research projects must contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda in one or more of the following priority areas:

Gender equality, Health Promotion, Environment, Rural Development, Cultural Diversity, Peace and Human Security and Sustainable Urbanization.

 The goal of this project is to support ambitious and technically sound research that is relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in education. We seek to support research that develops new foundational knowledge and SDG-focused research strategies that may have a lasting impact on educational discourse. This program supports proposals from multiple disciplinary and methodological perspectives from academic scholars at various stages in their career. We anticipate that proposals will span a wide range of topics and disciplines that innovatively investigate questions central to education.

Budget and Duration of Projects

ESD Research Grant supports education research projects that will contribute to the improvement of education with maximum budgets of $500,000 for project duration of two years. The total budget should be sufficient to enable the successful completion of the project.

The duration of the project intervention will depend on the logical framework. The project log frame should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound in all its components, namely objective, outcomes, outputs and indicators of performance.

Grant Eligibility

Proposals to the ESD Research Grants must be for academic research projects that aim to address educational based research. Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for ESD Research Grant must have earned a doctorate (PhD) in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession. While graduate students may be part of the research team, they may not be named the PI or Co-PI on the proposal. The PI must be affiliated with a university, non-profit organization or public/governmental institution that is willing to serve as the administering organization if the grant is awarded. They must clearly demonstrate high potential for the research findings to inform decision-making processes. Projects must carefully consider how the impacts of their research on policy and practice can be maximised and developed and proposals which challenge existing policy and practice assumptions are welcomed. Applicants must clearly describe the gap in the existing body of evidence on the topic that their research would fill, and present a clear dissemination plan that addresses how the evidence generated through this research could be used by decision-makers. Proposals for consideration must align with national education priorities.  All proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in the U.S. Dollars. Research proposals must actively engage with discussion, show willingness to adapt and share methodological tools relevant for cost-effective analysis. The applicant and its key personnel in this proposal have not been suspended, debarred, sanctioned, or otherwise identified as ineligible to receive taxpayer funds by the UN organisation. CVs must be attached for each named individual in the call.

Assessment criteria

 Research proposals received through this call will be assessed by a review panel of experts. The review panel for this program is made up of scholars in the field of education research with expertise across many disciplines and methodological areas. There will be two rounds of the selection process. Research proposals selected will be invited to prepare and submit a full proposal setting out research proposal plans in more detail.

 For selected research proposals, a workshop at the UNPDF office will be conducted to further seek input and assessment from the granting office. This workshop is fully funded. All principal investigators selected may engage in a consultancy role with UNPDF in future in accordance with the Conditions of Contract rules.

How to Apply

The application process involves submitting a call for proposal that demonstrates adherence to the eligibility and criteria.


The deadline for submission is no later than 23:59 pm, 30 November 2021. Upon receipt of the proposals, UNPDF will send an email acknowledging receipt to every applicant. The deadline for submission of a full proposal is one month from the invitation to submit a full proposal. Only applications sent before the deadline will be accepted. Invitation to submit a full proposal does not guarantee approval of grant funding.


For information about Research Grant application and guidelines, please submit your query or completed applications to: grant@unpdtf.org  titled Application for ESD Research Grant.

 Simone Datzberger

Lecturer, Education and International Development

Institute of Education
University College London
Room 829B, Bedford Way 20
London WC1H 0AL

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