NCCR-North-South: Research Partnership for Sustainable Development


Type of Structure: coordinated project
Regional Scope: international in the area: Switzerland /
Parent Organisations: SNF, DEZA
Child Organisations:
Duration : 2001 to 2012 COMPLETED
Contact Address: no office contact defined

related to NCCR-North-South

General information and objectives

National Competence Center "Research Partnership for Sustainable Development"

The program encompasses a robust network of over 400 researchers active in more than 40 countries worldwide. It is dedicated to finding sustainable, practicable solutions to specific challenges of global change. Central to all NCCR North-South activities is a commitment to partnership between institutions and individuals in the northern and southern hemispheres. Research is collaboratively conducted with a special emphasis on the needs of developing and transition countries, since they are arguably under the most pressure due to accelerated global processes of environmental, economic, and sociopolitical change.
Issues addressed: Research will focus on the following syndrome contexts:

(1) urban and peri-urban areas
(2) semi-arid areas,
(3) highland-lowland areas

Core problems frequently occurring in these syndrome contexts are:

Land degradation, particularly in rural areas, restricted access to, and availability of fresh water, inadequate environmental sanitation in centres of human activity, problems of human health and limited health services, lack of potential to alleviate poverty and secure better livelihoods autonomously, conflicts, particularly in resource management, inadequate policies for reducing institutional incompatibilities and barriers.

Objectives: The objectives of the envisaged 10-year programme are threefold: (a) to further disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research aiming at sustainable development; (b) to help develop in-stitutions and train staff in partner countries in these fields of research, and (c) to support the societies and institutions of partner countries in their efforts to address syndromes of their regions autonomously.

Interdisciplinary consortium approach: The programme of the NCCR North-South will be carried out by a consortium of Swiss research institutions working in partnership with national and international institutions. The programme consists of eight Individual Projects (IPs), each of them contributing to mitigation strategies at different levels of intervention - from land management technologies to policy dialogue - and in different scientific realms - from natural sciences to human and medical sciences. All participating Swiss institutions have a long-term record of, and experience in research collaboration in many parts of the developing world, on which the NCCR can build. Added value will be gained through a new, integrated approach that will es-tablish creative links between the different scientific realms and involve stakeholders at the local to regional levels. The conceptual framework devised for the programme has two main components: an analytical com-ponent, by which pressures on, states of, and societal responses to core problems and syndromes are analysed. The second component will support efforts of individual and institutional actor groups and catego-ries to devise applicable mitigation strategies. It will help identify potentials, dynamic changes, and innova-tive pathways geared to develop pro-active measures and to test the latter in the programme's 'Joint Areas of Case Studies' (JACS).

Mode of work: A number of activities will be pursued in an integrated, transdisciplinary approach: (1) global overviews of core problems leading to syndromes will be developed; (2) each IP will reinforce its research aiming to design mitigation measures in its own (multi-)disciplinary scientific realm; (3) transversal topics will be jointly addressed by IP representatives; (4) appraisals of syndromes in local and regional case studies (JACS) will be carried out (several IPs together), (5) a synthesis of mitigation strategies for differ-ent syndromes will be compiled, and (6) a scientific forum will be used for joint learning . Furthermore, a series of mitigation experiments and pilot activities will be implemented by (7) realising the programme's 'Partnership Actions for Mitigating Syndromes' (PAMS) defined in accordance with the requirements and demands formulated by stakeholders. Capacity building and participatory research and action are a driving force in the programme.

Added value: The research programme presented in this proposal is unique in many respects. For the first time it synergises the multifaceted experience of leading research institutions in Switzerland and partner countries. Secondly, the research design is oriented towards the most pressing problems of global change experienced by developing and transition countries. Thirdly, the research approach encompasses a broad range of disciplines, from bio-geography to political science, and it addresses problems and devises poten-tial measures to counteract these problems at different levels of intervention, from land users and urban dwellers to international politics. Finally, the research concepts include the development of disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary methodologies that respond to the world-wide need for practical solutions as well as for more participatory, i.e. partnership approaches.

Regional Focus:
Research activities of the NCCR North-South focus mainly on developing and transition countries. Eight regions or Joint Areas of Case Studies (JACS) have been selected in such countries - plus one in Switzerland. Specific research partnerships have been established with institutions in these regions. An integrated, context-specific, problem- and mitigation-oriented synthesis can only be developed if research is jointly conducted in the JACS and the lead given to institutional partners residing in these areas. Regional Coordination Offices (RCOs) have been established and serve as secretariats of the programme to facilitate this process.

In each JACS, research addresses one or more syndromes, and mitigation studies are initiated to help find ways of reducing the negative impact of these syndromes. Usually, several Individual Projects (IPs) collaborate and follow a set of activity lines, while one of the IPs serves as a link to the NCCR North-South. JACS are not clearly delimited geographical regions, but comprise broader areas where stakeholders perceive that one or more syndromes occur. Research is carried out on different themes, while activities usually start with a focus on core issues that are defined according to existing collaboration and competence. A participatory approach is used, gradually developing into an integrated syndrome mitigation approach involving local stakeholders on the one hand, as well as institutions working in other IPs and their partners in the South.
Partnership Regions

For further details, link to the NCCR-North-South Home Page

Last update: 5/5/22
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2022)

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