The Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network Program (MTT) opens applications for its flagship research studies.
The Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network Program, supported by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), aims to work with national and regional knowledge-based policy influence organizations (KBPIOs) in the Mekong Region to enhance their capacities to effectively engage stakeholders involved in policy processes.
The program will work with KBPIOs to support strengthening towards more equitable policy and practice in relation to the nexus of water security, energy security, as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. This will be combined with communications based on high-quality research, practical advice generated by the program, and cross-learning among relevant organizations in the region.
The long-term goal of the program is to contribute to improved and more equitable water and energy security, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change in the Mekong Region for the benefit of all, especially marginalized, climate-vulnerable, and at-risk communities and social and gender groups. To do so, the program aims to contribute to more robust and inclusive water, energy, and climate research and policy interfaces, resulting in more effective and equitable policies, which are cross-sectoral, informed by evidence, and are responding to the needs of climate vulnerable communities and socially marginalized or at risk groups, women and people from gender minorities, people living in multidimensional poverty, and people living with disabilities.
Flagship Research Studies are one of the key activities of the MTT Program. These studies aim to enhance evidence-based understanding of the Water-Energy-Climate (WEC) nexus, including through the lens of gender and social equity, and motivate the application of this knowledge to practical, robust, and equitable policy solutions to persistent and emerging issues and challenges. Special attention is given to the potential to enhance the practices and strategies of KBPIOs in generating and sharing knowledge as well as supporting collaboration with other stakeholders. As flagship research in the program, these studies are intended to demonstrate the value of a holistic perspective on water, energy, and climate issues and their interconnections and the likely benefits from new or enhanced knowledge-to-policy processes in the Mekong Countries.
Water-Energy-Climate challenges in the Mekong
- The demands of water and energy for socioeconomic development are increasing and competition among the sectors nationally and between Mekong countries is rising. There are numerous development challenges facing the Mekong Region influenced by climate change and the pandemic, including national and global food security associated with sea level rise in mega-deltas of Asia, triggering new poverty traps and emerging hotspots of hunger to potential conflicts over transboundary water resources. These changes have been at the expense of natural resources and local communities with growing levels of inequality.
- The outcomes—and justice relating to energy, water and climate—are also directly affected by inclusion and equity (or the lack of) in decision-making processes. Policymakers tend to be largely men in these sectors in the Mekong region. Women tend to be, directly or indirectly, excluded from decision-making due to gender-related norms and barriers, especially women from already marginalized social groups such as ethnic minorities, Indigenous groups, or women living with disabilities. As such, mainstreaming Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) into the Water- Energy-Climate policies and planning processes in the Mekong Countries at national and regional levels is also a key challenge to lead to more equitable and sustainable GEDSI outcomes in the region.
- To address the above interconnected, socio-technical-policy WEC challenges in the Mekong region, the applicant shall design a research study and engagement activities that address one of the following research topics:
- Governing long-term climate change adaptation measures (e.g., managed coastal retreat in response to sea level rise) and their implications for efforts to equitably enhance climate resilience of water and energy systems for all, especially climate- vulnerable communities and socially marginalized or at-risk groups.
- Advancing technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), remote sensing, and Internet of Things (IoT) to equitably improve warning and notification systems for unusual water flows, floods, shortages, and drought for climate-vulnerable communities and socially marginalized or at-risk groups.
- Comparison of infrastructure and nature-based water storage management options for multiple purposes (water supply, energy production, fisheries, ecotourism, etc.) in terms of potential to enhance equitable benefit sharing and reduce climate risks.
- Challenges and successes to date in GEDSI mainstreaming into WEC nexus policies and related coordination mechanisms, leading to identify actionable lessons for more inclusive and equitable for planning and management.
- Enhancing renewable energy transitions for the poorest, marginalized, and climate- vulnerable social and gender groups, including women and people living with disabilities, while reducing water insecurity in a changing climate.
- Enhancing the effectiveness of civil society KBPIOs in generating evidence, engaging with and influencing policy, and addressing challenges arising from WEC and their interlinkages, including equity.
- Other topics that clearly contribute to addressing key knowledge and policy gaps related to water, energy, climate and equity challenges may be proposed with strong justification.
Funding and Duration
- Funding support will not exceed AUD 250,000 (USD 163,000) per research project and be completed within 1.5 years.
- Report on Flagship Research Study.
- At least one peer review paper from Flagship Research Study.
- Analytical/decision support tools.
- Practical solutions/frameworks uptake for policy or guidelines on policy influences.
- At least three communication products.
Who can apply?
- Consortium of KBPIOs and experts whose works focus on the Mekong Region can apply to this call for applications.
- The project team should be gender-balanced in its composition, including in the leadership aspects. Social diversity is strongly encouraged, including the inclusion of people who identify as being from social or gender minorities and those living with disabilities.
- Lead Applicant:
- Lead Applicant must be a regional or national KBPIO based in one of four Mekong countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand or Vietnam).
- The Lead Applicant needs to demonstrate institutional and/or regional capacity and experience necessary to direct the proposed research study and to actively lead the consortium to ensure effective project implementation through to completion.
- The Lead Applicant that provides opportunities for young professionals, people with disabilities, and gender-diverse persons within its organization to contribute to the research and policy engagement work and/or develop their capacities is encouraged to apply.
- Consortium Member:
- Consortium Member is an individual expert or KBPIO based within or outside Mekong Region.
- Consortium Member individual or organization needs to demonstrate capacity in the topics/theme of the proposed research study and/or in engagement with relevant policy processes identified by the research study.
- Consortium Members that work with young professionals, people with disabilities, and gender-diverse persons are encouraged to apply.
For more information, visit Stockholm Environment Institute.