BMGF Grand Challenges – Accelerating Catalyzing Solutions for Climate Change’s Impact on Health, Agriculture and Gender

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenge (GC) initiative seeks to engage innovators from around the world to solve the most pressing challenges in global health and development.

This Accelerating Catalyzing Solutions for Climate Change’s Impact on Health, Agriculture and Gender GC competition seeks innovative research and pilot/feasibility projects utilising transdisciplinary approaches to better adapt to, mitigate or reverse the combined adverse effects of climate change on health, women’s lives and agriculture in the geographies of interest. 

GC partners, including GC Africa (Science for Africa Foundation), GC Brazil (Ministry of Health of Brazil), GC Ethiopia (Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI)), GC India (Department of Biotechnology of India), and GC Rwanda (National Council for Science and Technology), along with the Pasteur Network, and supported by the Wellcome Trust, Foundation S-the Sanofi Collective and the Rockefeller Foundation, have launched this request for proposals (RFP) to identify and support promising innovations.

As this RFP has been launched by multiple partners across multiple geographies and topic areas with variable funding levels, candidates are advised to review the requirements for each RFP to determine their eligibility. The individual RFPs are listed separately on the Grand Challenges website. For those organisations eligible for multiple RFPs, they should choose the RFP that most closely aligns with the proposed project.

There is an urgent need to invest in creative solutions to help vulnerable populations adapt and build their resilience to the existing and future climate related challenges impacting health and agriculture, and build alternative livelihoods. This work will involve making those most affected, especially women, major stakeholders in discussions about how new climate resistant and adaptive innovations will be deployed, as well as giving them a deliberate choice and advantage in the creation of new economic opportunities that result from these investments.

This GC RFP has specific topic areas. Innovators are encouraged to propose their own ideas related to the topics or consider the examples listed on the RFP webpage. Topic areas and geographies of interest are:

Health outcomes – Including systemic and compounding impacts of climate change on health. Solutions are sought targeting:  

  • Early warning and disease surveillance. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.
  • Gender equality, diversity and inclusion. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.
  • Community health ecosystems. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.
  • Measurement & Evaluation (M&E). Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.

Nutrition – Undernutrition is a consequence of climate change and it makes people more susceptible to its effects, particularly extreme heat exposure, which poses unique risks for pregnant women, newborns and infants under two years old. Solutions are required that address:

  • Heat stress and nutritional status, in particular gestation weight gain, low birth weight, preterm birth, small for gestational age, early growth faltering (in children <6 months) and child wasting. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Brazil.
  • Heat stress and micronutrient status, including anaemia and breastmilk quality.
  • Improved real-time monitoring and surveillance of wasting and the spatial relationship between climate vulnerability and undernutrition. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Brazil.
  • Integration of climate risk into social protection schemes and the inclusion of nutrition products and services as part of an essential nutrition package within social safety net programmes. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Brazil.
  • Innovation in the composition of specialised nutritious foods, considering susceptibility of raw ingredients to climate shocks, price volatility and decreased nutritional quality. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Brazil.

Adaptation strategies for agriculture and income development – Focusing on women’s agriculture livelihoods. Solutions are sought for: 

  • In-situ methods for measuring Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF) at field level to help validate climate-smart biofertilisers as next generation inputs. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Brazil.
  • Scaling access to climate decision support provided by women- and youth-run, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Geography of interest: sub-Saharan Africa.
  • (1) Climate-smart labour-saving technologies for rural women that are affordable and accessible with potential for scale; (2) Identifying opportunities for rural women’s organisations to influence national climate adaptation plans; and (3) Gender transformative climate-smart innovations for livelihood diversification on and off farm in food systems. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Knowledge management and data integration of climate and health databases – Many vector-borne diseases may increase in localities that were not prepared for them before the advent of climate-change. Solutions are required that integrate data from climate scientists, disease modellers and government health officials to help address the rise of specific diseases. Potential areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Facilitating community participation in/crowd-sourcing data collection to track climate change impact at local level. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.
  • Integrating commercially available databases and local data into early warning systems that can drive decision making, working to ensure sex-disaggregated data when relevant. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.
  • Researching the relationship between climate change and the spread of vector-borne diseases to develop early warning systems to prevent outbreaks. Geographies of interest: sub-Saharan Africa and Brazil.

Effective response and resilient supply chains for crisis management – Maintaining routine health delivery or non-routine campaigns such as humanitarian aid and vaccination efforts will be an increasingly multifaceted problem as the need for rapid, directed humanitarian aid increases in the face of extreme climate events. There is a need to implement agile, resilient supply chains that allow for the re-deployment of interventions based on need against vector-borne diseases. Geography of interest: sub-Saharan Africa.

This scheme is open to organisations such as academic institutions, government agencies, international organisations, non-profit organisations and for-profit companies.

The geographies of interest are outlined within the topic/sub-topic areas – they are sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and Brazil. The effort needs to be led by investigators in the specified geographies. Global collaborators may be included, but at least 80% of the funding must go to an organisation within the specified geographies.

Grants of up to $200,000 are available for up to two years. Application budgets should be commensurate with the scope of work proposed.

Applications must be submitted by the deadline of 31 January 2024 (11:30 US PT).