ECOPOLIS Graduate Research and Design Awards

The IDRC ECOPOLIS Graduate Research and Design Awards goal is to promote research and design projects that help lighten the environmental problems borne by the urban poor and enhance their financial, human, resource, and social and political assets. Deadline May 15th, 2008.

The main goal of IDRC’s Urban Poverty and Environment Program (UPE) is to ease the environmental burdens that exacerbate poverty in developing countries by strengthening the capacity of the urban poor to access environmental services, reduce environmental degradation and vulnerability to natural disasters, and enhance the use of natural resources for food, water and income security. UPE helps its partners understand the nature of environmental burdens, identify potential solutions, test interventions, assess policies, and contribute to planning, development, and implementation of policies.

Visit for more details.

As part of its strategy to create knowledge and unleash potential innovations, UPE is launching the IDRC ECOPOLIS Graduate Research and Design Awards with the goal of promoting research and design projects that help lighten the environmental problems borne by the urban poor and enhance their financial, human, resource, and social and political assets. Awards will be granted to cover expenses related to Master- or Doctoral-level research and design projects in developing countries where the candidate has formed a partnership with local academic institutions, such as universities, and non-academic organizations.

Two types of awards are being offered: Research Awards and Design Awards. Research Awards will support field expenses for studying a theme included in UPE’s priorities. Research Awards will not include a design aspect.

In contrast, Design Awards must include a research aspect, but the research will be oriented to informing a design project. A design project is one that partly or completely conceives, lays-out, or prepares something physical that would be developed, constructed, implemented, or demonstrated. A design can encompass one or many, if not all, the stages leading to the realization and the use of an object. For instance, a design project could include one or more of the following:

* Plans or diagrams of renovated or new sustainable housing for slums;
* A physical or virtual model of a design, for example, a scaled or full-scale model of a part or the whole layout of a new urban social housing community;
* A device (such as a hurricane roof-to-wall connector),
* A building material, a component, a sub-system (roof, wall or foundations) or a full building system, which can turn existing buildings or make new ones earthquake, landslide or flooding-proof in urban poor areas;
* A working model of equipment, software, technology or infrastructure that helps manage the environment or resources, such as a pump or latrine, a water treatment system, or a composter;
* A demonstration, installation or construction of an urban garden, small bore sewer, or a geotextile for slope stabilization, within a community.

UPE wishes to encourage innovation and creativity and a design project can mean different things to different audiences. Thus the above is meant for guidance only, and applicants are free to propose design projects that go beyond the above examples. The definition of a design project will likely evolve and deepen as ECOPOLIS progresses.

Eligible Themes and Disciplinary Fields of Study

Poverty and environmental issues in the urban context of developing countries are complex and multilayered, and require interdisciplinary approaches and cross-sectoral collaboration.

ECOPOLIS will continue to consider a limited number of research proposals around the theme of urban agriculture that were supported by IDRC’s former AGROPOLIS Awards Program but, with the ambition of broadening its scope and exploring new directions, the new award program will give precedence to research and design proposals in connection with the following key themes:

* Urban water and sanitation
* Solid waste management
* Vulnerability to natural disasters
* Land tenure
* Housing, as an new complementary theme

Proposals that address or integrate two or more of the above themes are encouraged.

The candidate’s academic training should exhibit a sound and thorough knowledge of at least one of the six themes mentioned above, balanced with broader urban-oriented subjects.

The following are eligible disciplinary fields:

* Agricultural Sciences
* Anthropology
* Architecture
* Disaster Risk Management
* Economics, Financing and Marketing
* Engineering
* Environmental Studies
* Geography
* Geology and Soil Sciences
* Health and Nutrition
* Housing/Built Environment (including Sustainable/Alternative Design, Building Materials and Technologies)
* Sociology
* Urban Planning
* Public Policy Analysis
* Waste management
* Water Supply and Sanitation

With the intention to promote the integration of social and gender analysis into research, the selection committee of this IDRC ECOPOLIS Research and Design Awards will give special attention to research projects that integrate gender/equity analysis as a crosscutting theme.


Applicants must meet the following conditions for eligibility:

* Hold Canadian citizenship or permanent residency status in Canada, or hold a citizenship of a developing country;
* Be registered in a graduate program at a recognized (northern or southern) university which provides training and supervisory expertise in the field of the proposed research for the duration of the award period;
* Research or design proposal is for a master’s or doctoral thesis and has already been approved by the thesis committee/supervisor;
* Proposed field work will take place in a developing country;
* Provide evidence of affiliation with (at least) one academic institution (university) as well as with (at least) one *non-academic organization in the region in which the research or proposed design will take place;
* Master’s and doctoral candidates must have completed course work – and doctoral candidates must have also passed comprehensive examinations – by the time of the award tenure has started.

*Examples of eligible non-academic organizations: non-government organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), municipal, regional or national authorities, public or private sector corporations.

Award tenure corresponds to the period of field work. In general, this will be no less than 3 months and no more than 12 months.

Value of Awards
The Research Awards will cover justifiable field work expenses to a maximum of CA $20,000.

The Design Awards will be granted a maximum of CA $40,000, which will cover justifiable field work expenses (up to CA $ 20,000) to conduct research that informs and documents the development, construction, implementation, or demonstration model of the proposed design (up to CA $ 20,000).

Selected results may be considered for publication by UPE, and for additional support to present at international conferences or exhibitions.

Number of Awards
Up to five (5) awards per year for research projects.
Up to five (5) awards per year for design projects.

Final Reports
Award recipients must complete the Final Report Form and submit a detailed technical report upon completion of the award tenure.

Applications must be received by May 15th, 2008.

Awards will be announced on or before July 15, 2008.

Awards tenure should have started by July 15, 2009.


Applications will be evaluated:

* according to the relevance of the proposed research to sustainable and equitable development as well as to UPE priorities and
* on the quality of the research proposal based on the Guidelines for submission of ECOPOLIS Research and Design Proposals .

If there are ethical questions connected with the research, the applicant may, at IDRC's discretion, be required to submit the appropriate approval from the ethic's committee of the candidate’s home university and the national ethical and scientific review committee in the country where the research is taking place.

Please submit all documents listed in the List of Supporting Documents to be Submitted. Complete applications must be received at the Centre by the deadline. Incomplete applications will NOT be considered.

In addition to the requested documents, candidates must provide a CD containing all requested documents except the proof of citizenship, letters of affiliation and letters of reference. All files on the CD must be provided in PDF, Word, or Excel.

It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that the paper and electronic copies (on the CD) are identical.

Applications will be accepted in English and in French ONLY.

Please note that IDRC, as a Canadian Crown corporation, is subject to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) and, as such, certain projects which its funds may be subject to environmental assessment. As such, your proposed project work, if selected for an ECOPOLIS award, may be subject to an environmental assessment, and certain modifications aimed at limiting environmental impacts may be requested, as preconditions of IDRC funding.

Applications must be sent to the following address:

By regular mail, Canada Post, Priority Post, or XPRESSPOST:

IDRC ECOPOLIS Graduate Research and Design Awards
Centre Training and Awards Program (CTAP)
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
P.O. Box 8500
Ottawa, Ontario
K1G 3H9 - Canada

By courier services:
IDRC ECOPOLIS Graduate Research and Design Awards
Centre Training and Awards Program (CTAP)
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
150 Kent Street, Mailroom Suite 389
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 0B2 - Canada

Fax: (1 613) 567-7748
Telephone: (1 613) 236-6163 ext. 2098
E-mail: [email protected]

We thank all applicants for their interest and will contact those candidates whose academic background, quality of the research proposal and skills best match the criteria of the Award.

Published: 05 Mar 2008

Contact details:

Head Office
Mailing address PO Box 8500, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 3H9

208 Jor Bagh, New Delhi 110003, India
Phone: (+91-11) 2461-9411

Latin America and the Caribbean:
Juncal 1385, Piso 14
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
Phone: (+598) 2915-0492

Middle East and North Africa 
Zahran Gate Complex Suite 302,
25 Ismael Haqqi Abdo Street,
Amman, Jordan

Sub-Saharan Africa
PO Box 62084 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

Street address: Eaton Place, 3rd floor
United Nations Crescent, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
Phone: (+254) 709-074000

+1 613 236 6163
News topics: 
Content type: