Call for Expressions of Interest

Research on Scaling up Nature-Based Solutions and Large-Scale Ecological Restoration

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Within the frame of the biodiversity research program "Encouraging the Development of a Pro-Nature Economy" (ECOPRONAT), AFD is launching a call for expressions of interest for research on "Scaling up Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and large-scale ecological restoration: Towards changes in agricultural production, land-use and urban development models". This call is the first phase of the selection process. The aim: funding four research projects, starting by the end of second quarter of 2022.
The call is open until February 4th, 2022 (20h00 GMT).

The call for expressions of interest

The ECOPRONAT research program aims to develop knowledge and methodologies to mainstream biodiversity in the policies and various sectors of AFD Group's interventions, to mobilise financial resources, and build capacities of student researchers and researchers from the South. This call for expressions of interest targets research on two related themes (one with the other in a "mainstreaming" perspective): (i) transformative changes in development models (development of knowledge to integrate biodiversity into agricultural, land use and urban sectors and related policies) and (ii) mobilization of financial resources to support these changes.

The research objectives for this call should be to:

  • Provide research and experiments results on scaling up Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in the three sectors concerned by the programme (agriculture and natural resources; land-use planning and management of the consumption of areas including agriculture, cities, water and industry; and cities and nature). Research on NbS involving ecological restoration will be particularly welcome, explaining how it relates to programmes for conservation and the productive intensification of value chain.
  • Explore the capacities and efficiency of NbS to contribute to changes in agricultural production, land use and urban development models. Research incorporating the challenges of integrating biodiversity into urban areas is particularly welcome.
  • Inform international debates and orientations on the convergence of biodiversity and climate agenda.
  • Explore the levers of action and success (technical, ecological, social, political, financial) linked to the change of scale in ecological restoration of degraded areas (all types of ecosystems degraded by the three priority sectors of the program: agriculture, land use, cities, or to be restored via these sectors).
  • Provide tools and insights based on the best available science and useful for the design and implementation of official development assistance projects involving NbS in general and restoration in particular to intervene in these three sectors, whether for donors, recipients (administrations of the Global South and local authorities of the Global South in particular) and implementing partners (NGOs, consultancy firms, research institutes, etc.). 

The call will shortlist particularly promising research intentions, the promoters of which will then be invited to develop a complete proposal for final selection in the second phase.

Eligible project proponents 

Universities and research centres, NGOs, private foundations, international research centres and companies (including consultancy firms and individual consultants) which will make all their research public.

Particular attention will be paid to ensuring that funding reaches not only actors in developed countries but also those in the Global South. Proposals that involve and build the capacities of research students and researchers from the Global South in the design, implementation and especially production of research results will be selected in priority.

A given organization can be part of several consortia at the stage of this Call for Expressions of interest but may only be in a maximum of one consortium at the time of submission of the full proposals.

Note: an organization that has already won the first ECOPRONAT call for proposals on biodiversity mainstreaming (2021) is not eligible for this call for proposals.

Geographical areas

All of AFD's intervention countries, with a non-exclusive priority  given to partner countries of the Biodev 2030 initiative with the exception of those (Kenya, Mozambique) already benefiting from an activity financed by ECOPRONAT in the framework of its first call for projects on biodiversity mainstreaming. This non-exclusive priority thus goes to: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam. It is possible to work on and with other countries without this being penalising as long as it is justified, with the exception of South Africa which is already benefiting from ECOPRONAT funding.

Sectors of activity concerned

Given the diversity of economic sectors concerned by the need to mainstream biodiversity, the ECOPRONAT programme focuses its research efforts on three of these sectors. This is to avoid spreading itself too thinly and to aim for significant impacts on models, methods and techniques:

  • Of agriculture, including forestry and livestock farming;
  • Of land use planning, in relation to the issues of infrastructure development, the consumption of areas and artificialisation of land;
  • Of urban development.

The links between these three sectors - focusing on issues related to mainstreaming biodiversity, are also among the programme's priorities (e.g. land use planning integrating biodiversity from the cities to the countryside and vice versa, or the biodiversity footprint of involving cities in their food supply basin). Multidisciplinary research projects that reach across sectors, as well as those that integrate the issue of financing the transformative changes induced, are therefore sought as a priority. 

Available budget

The total budget allocated to this call is EUR 890,000 inclusive of all taxes, for the subsequent selection of a maximum of four research projects for funding, each for an amount of less than 225 000 euros inclusive of all taxes.

Research projects duration 

The selected projects must be completed by September 30th, 2024.



  • Launch of the call for expression of interest: 26 November 2021
  • Closing date for requests for clarification: January 28th, 2022 
  • Closing of the call for proposal : February 4th, 2022 (20:00 GMT)
  • Completion of the full projects for the pre-selected expressions of interest: From March 7th to April 8th, 2022.
  • Award and contracting to the successful bidders: Mid-may 2022