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Global Call for Research Concept notes: climate-smart livestock systems

This document is a call for research concept notes for funding support from the International Development Research Centre, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. The purpose of this call is to support the development and delivery of innovative solutions for climate-smart livestock systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.

11. About the International Development Research Centre

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is a Crown corporation created in 1970 by the Parliament of Canada. IDRC supports and strengthens the capacity of people and institutions in developing countries to undertake the research that they identify as most urgent. It works with researchers and research users as they confront contemporary challenges within their own countries, and contributes to global advances in their fields.

IDRC’s 10-year strategy, Strategy 2030, affirms its vision for a more sustainable and inclusive world, and commits IDRC to the following mission: IDRC will be a leader in research for development, investing in high-quality research and innovation, sharing knowledge for greater uptake and use, and mobilizing alliances for more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive societies. (Please refer to IDRC’s Strategy 2030 for more information.)

In the context of this strategy, we identified the following five programs that will shape IDRC’s work over the next decade — making knowledge a tool for improving lives across the developing world:

  • Climate-Resilient Food Systems
  • Democratic and Inclusive Governance
  • Education and Science 
  • Global Health 
  • Sustainable Inclusive Economies

The Climate-Resilient Food Systems (CRFS) program funds research that helps build equitable, inclusive and sustainable food systems in developing countries. This work helps develop resilience among communities severely affected by climate change and addresses emerging health threats that arise from food systems. Animal Health is part of the CRFS program and funds innovative research with the aim to improve animal health and welfare, as well as food production and security. Climate, food quality and security, and gender equality and inclusion are central to our program. In the following sections you will see how we plan to address these in all our programming.

2 2. About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty and a more equitable and resilient world in the face of climate change.

33. About The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) pursues the UK’s national interests and projects the UK as a force for good in the world. FCDO promotes the interests of British citizens, safeguards the UK’s security, defends British values, reduces poverty and tackles global challenges with our international partners. Information about the FCDO can be found at: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office - GOV.UK (

The FCDO’s Food & Agriculture Research Team is one of seven specialist research teams in the Research & Evidence Directorate. The team oversees a portfolio of large-scale, complex programmes on science, technology and innovation that are geared toward driving the critical transformations in food systems required to strengthen food security, tackle climate change, protect nature and deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

The portfolio is organized into five thematic platforms, with climate-resilience as a cross-cutting theme:

  1. Sustainable food production and land management

  2. Pathways to scale

  3. Response systems for global pest threats

  4. Affordable, healthy diets

  5. Resilience in fragile and conflict-affected states

44. About Climate-Smart Livestock Systems

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) are investing an initial CAD13.5 million to lead, through IDRC, a Fund for Climate-Smart Livestock Systems (CSLS) in Africa. The focus of the fund will be to develop new climate-smart livestock technologies and business models to improve animal productivity and lower emission intensity for smallholder livestock farmers in climatic hotspots in Africa. 

Key entry points include the development of new feed and forage, Indigenous knowledge systems, circular economies, data management and animal health. Priority focus would be to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by supporting smallholder livestock farmers' transition towards a low-carbon future and increasing their adaptive capacities. This will be achieved by engaging in bottom-up approaches to support the development and uptake of climate-smart technologies that take into consideration the multidimensional barriers to the equitable participation of peoples who are most marginalized in climate adaptation measures. Projects that integrate country programming contexts, development objectives and economic decision making will also be prioritized to ensure that mitigation measures are in place to withstand shocks to value chains (market variability, pricing, etc.) due to climate variability.

The inclusion of private sector players will also be essential. The private sector contributes significant benefits — including innovation and expertise, and market orientation to calibrate research outcomes for alignment with market demands — and are often focussed on long-term scalable sustainability. Collaboration with the private sector can contribute valuable data and technology for research, enabling more accurate assessments and monitoring of climate-smart livestock systems.

55. Overview of the call

Background and rationale

Climate change threatens the ability of agricultural systems to sustainably meet the dietary needs of the global population. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this means increasing variability in rainfall, more uncertainty for farmers and herders, and the shifting geographic spread of disease. Its impacts extend to the health and productivity of livestock, which are a key component of food systems in these regions.

Livestock play a pivotal role in food systems across Sub-Saharan Africa. They provide livelihoods to millions of women and men livestock keepers and are used as safety nets in times of crises for vulnerable households. Further, they provide essential nutrition and play a central role in the cultural identities of many communities (Roy et al. 2018). 

However, inequalities are also deeply embedded in livestock systems, including through the gendered division of labour; social norms that constrain access to land, resources, extension services, information, financial services and mobility; and unequal decision-making power, with women particularly managing climate risks at household levels (Gannon et al. 2022). These inequalities are likely to further intensify with climate change. Recent studies are only beginning to emerge on the nature and effects of climate change on livestock and livestock systems to find appropriate adaptation and mitigations options, climate-smart agriculture being one potential solution (Escarcha et al. 2018, Ayanlade and Ojebisi 2019, Vijayalakshmi and Barbhai 2021, Ogunyiola et al. 2022, and Rusere et al. 2022).

Livestock production occurs under diverse systems across the continent, including grazing, mixed farming and industrial systems, which will be affected by climate change in differing ways. While livestock production is a key provider of the protein needed to satisfy increasing food demands, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), livestock GHG emissions contribute to climate change. In LMICs, livestock typically generate more GHG emissions per unit of product compared with developed countries (Gerber et al., 2013) due to low productivity and additional inputs required in the production of value-added products such as dairy (Rahimi et al. 2022). Yet, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent special report on climate change and land identified that key investments are required in agricultural research for crop and livestock improvements alongside cropland, grazing and livestock management as key interventions for integrated response options to agricultural land management in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change (Hurlbert et al. 2019). For example, feed efficiency is of extreme importance for both animal health and production (Yesuf et al. 2021). However, ecosystem pressures such as poor grazing and pasture management practices can put high pressure on agriculture land and hamper the supply of high-quality forage, particularly in zones with scarce water (Enahoro et al. 2019). Additionally, climatic shocks have degraded and, in some instances, completely wiped-out whole rangelands putting livestock at nutritional risk and adversely impacting pastoralist livelihoods (Ofoegbu et al. 2018). Therefore, there is a need for both GHG mitigation and adaptation to climate change research.

It is estimated that the agriculture sector receives only 1 to 3 percent of climate finance provided globally (Buchner, 2017). Despite its critical importance, the LMIC livestock sector receives only a small share of this finance aimed at reducing emissions (Odhong’ et al., 2019) and adapting to climate change. Further, drivers of farmers’ risk perception and adaptive capacity to climate change requires an increase of social capital within and for livestock farming communities to adopt adaptation and mitigation measures (M.M Rojas-Downing et al. 2017). There is a significant opportunity to expand research on climate change mitigation and adaptation as it relates to livestock in Africa (which currently over-relies on extrapolated data from intensive livestock systems that might be different from the SSA livestock production context), tap into African expertise in livestock systems research and lessen the risk that climate change poses to food systems, and promote and guard progress towards regional development goals (Iacobuţă et al. 2021). There is a significant gap to fill in the investment level in future climate-smart livestock systems that mitigate GHG emission and provide a sustainable source of food (Vincent and Cundill 2021). The design of such systems for Africa is yet to be supported and must be led by African stakeholders.

Research themes and key objectives

The Fund for Climate-Smart Livestock Systems was shaped by lessons learned from previous programs and a three-month stakeholder engagement phase. The consultative process used a three-pronged approach: online interviews with stakeholders within and beyond Africa, three regional in-person meetings for Eastern, Southern and Western/Central sub-regions, and two commissioned literature reviews. A broad spectrum of stakeholders was engaged, including the funder community, livestock farmers, expert researchers, the private and public sectors, NGOs, veterinary authorities, international organizations and academia. This inclusive approach ensured a well-informed foundation for the fund's subsequent endeavors.

Online interviews15 participantsSub-Saharan Africa and global
Regional in-person meetings180 participants (see Annex 14 for countries represented)Nairobi-KENYA, Livingstone-ZAMBIA and Saly-SENEGAL
Literature reviews2 teams (Mercy Corps and The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network)South Africa and Kenya

This consultation process served multiple critical purposes, including the design of this call for concept notes:

  • Demand-driven approach: It ensured alignment with the specific needs of semi-arid and arid regions in sub-Saharan Africa, which were most vulnerable to climate impacts on livestock production. It also included a historic and current mapping of climatic hotspots with respect to different livestock density and production systems contributed to by both the literature review and physical regional meetings.

  • Coordination and collaboration: CSLS needed to complement and coordinate with related initiatives and actively seek collaboration and partnerships with other funders.

  • Knowledge sharing: The consultative process contributed to knowledge sharing in the field of inclusive, climate-resilient livestock systems in LMICs. This included listening to African voices on topics such as gender equality, translational science, business models and environmental sustainability to enforce an African-led programming.

  • Knowledge management: Collecting ideas on how to enhance the CSLS’s knowledge management and dissemination efforts.

The programming will have two streams of research:

  1. climate-smart innovations in livestock system

  2. delivery models to commercialize and scale mature climate-smart innovations

The ultimate intended outcome of climate smart livestock systems: 

To develop new climate-smart livestock technologies and business models to improve animal productivity and lower emission intensity for smallholder livestock farmers in climatic hotspots in Sub Sahara Africa.

Thematic focus areas 

Four thematic areas have been identified from the consultative process as being research priorities for CSLS program:

  1. water, pastures and feed management

  2. Indigenous knowledge systems, climate data and management

  3. integration of renewable energy — circular economies

  4. animal health 

Concept notes will need to be based on addressing one or two of these four themes. Each of the four themes presents examples of subthemes that applicants may address in their project.

Water, pastures and feed management

  1. Enhancing water resource reliability and drought resilience: This priority focuses on increasing the reliability of water resources for livestock and improving resilience to drought conditions. This may involve implementing water management strategies such as water storage, efficient irrigation and water conservation practices.

  2. Efficient utilization of bio-resources: The aim is to optimize the use of available bio-resources, particularly water resources, to ensure sustainable livestock production. This involves employing practices that minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency.

  3. Climate-smart forage production: The initiative involves the development and widespread adoption of climate-smart livestock technologies and innovations. These technologies should enable the production of high-quality forage that is adapted to local agroecological conditions, ensuring the availability of nutritious feed for livestock, even in changing climate scenarios.

  4. Pasture corridors: Implementation and improvement of pasture corridors are essential. This includes enhancing the connectivity of grazing areas, improving livestock movement patterns and using transhumance practices to optimize pasture utilization.

  5. Involvement of women and youth: A key target is to engage at least 30 percent of women and young people in forage production activities. This promotes gender and generational diversity in the livestock sector while fostering inclusivity and empowerment.

  6. Effective rangeland management: Implementing sound rangeland management practices is crucial for maintaining healthy grazing areas. These practices help prevent overgrazing, land degradation and desertification, ensuring the long-term sustainability of livestock farming.

  7. Post-harvest management and processing: This initiative emphasizes effective post-harvest management and processing of fodder and animal products. It includes strategies to conserve and store fodder and animal-derived products, reduce waste and ensure a stable food supply in the face of climate challenges.

Indigenous knowledge systems, climate data and management

  1. Documenting climate-smart practices: This initiative involves documenting existing climate-smart innovations and practices that have been tested across different contexts. This knowledge will serve as a valuable resource for adapting livestock management to changing climate conditions.

  2. Validation and dissemination of traditional approaches: The collection, validation and dissemination of traditional knowledge and approaches aim to enhance livestock resilience and productivity. This includes recognizing and promoting Indigenous practices that have proven effective in livestock management.

  3. Greenhouse gas emissions data: Gathering and sharing data on GHG emissions from various livestock systems is a key aspect of the work. Research focuses on understanding the links between feeding practices, genetics and emissions, as well as assessing the impact of different management practices on emissions.

  4. Translation of local knowledge: The translation of local and Indigenous knowledge into practical innovations and indicators is essential for transforming livestock production systems and value chains. This process ensures that traditional wisdom is integrated into modern practices. It includes any Indigenous early warning systems that were used for events like droughts, floods and rainfall patterns.

  5. Decision-support tools:  Development of decision-support tools such as databases, applications, maps, policy briefs, technical briefs and extension sheets. These tools assist stakeholders in making informed decisions related to climate-smart livestock management.

  6. Dissemination of information: The initiative includes the dissemination of climate-smart information, livestock and fodder insurance schemes and other information relevant to women, youth and male farmers. The focus is on using existing knowledge while building upon it to enhance skills, technologies and access to information. 

Integration of renewable energy: circular economies

  1. Integration with farming systems: The initiative focuses on integrating livestock systems with other ecosystems, including agroforestry and silvo-pastoral systems (regenerative agriculture). Regenerative agriculture benefits include improvement of pasture quality, lessening erosion and increasing water retention. This approach promotes sustainable land use by combining livestock grazing with tree cultivation, enhancing ecosystem services and biodiversity.

  2. Integration with crop farming: Collaboration with crop farming involves using crop residue as fodder for livestock (circular feed production) and utilizing livestock manure as fertilizer for crop production (circular livestock farming). This circular approach reduces waste, enhances nutrient cycling and improves overall farm productivity.

  3. Bioenergy and emissions reduction: Implementation of bioenergy solutions and innovative fertilizers plays a crucial role in reducing GHG emissions from livestock systems. By utilizing on-farm renewable energy sources (for example, manure can be used to generate biogas through anaerobic digestion) and optimizing nutrient management, emissions are minimized, contributing to climate-smart practices.

  4. Carbon sequestration technologies: The program actively promotes the application of established carbon sequestration technologies on the ground. These technologies help capture and store carbon in soils and vegetation, contributing to climate change mitigation efforts while enhancing soil health and resilience.

Animal health

  1. Productivity: Livestock health issues like GI parasites in ruminants have an impact on rumination patterns and GHG emissions. Reducing livestock diseases, especially among smallholders and pastoralists, will both reduce emissions and improve livestock productivity. Research should also consider cost-effective ruminant disease control, especially community-based animal health delivery systems.

  2. Technologies for disease monitoring: Precision livestock farming involves the use of advanced technologies such as sensors, data analytics and automation to monitor and manage livestock production. These technologies enable real-time monitoring of animal health, behavior and productivity, allowing farmers to make informed decisions regarding feed management, disease prevention and reproduction.

  3. Vaccines: It is critical to make vaccines available and accessible, and to conduct research on increasing the uptake of livestock vaccines in Africa. Address gender-specific challenges in accessing animal health services by offering low-cost and rapid delivery of animal vaccines, while also challenging gender norms.

66. Funding scope and duration

We intend to provide grant funding for up to six research projects of up to a maximum of CAD1,500,000 each for 36 months.

77. Eligibility criteria

Only concept notes that meet the following eligibility criteria will be considered.

  • The lead applicant organization should be an African institution (public or private). It will be the administering institution.

  • The project shows a gender-balanced consortia without compromising the expertise needed to accomplish the objectives of each concept note.
  • The consortia preferably comprise researchers, farmer organizations, extension services, financial services and women’s groups.
  • Applicants from academia, and private and public sector organisations with strong research focus are eligible for this global call.
  • Applicants from United Nations (UN) systems are not eligible to apply to this call as lead or co-applicant organizations. UN organizations may participate as third-party organizations. 
  • Applicants from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Centres are not eligible as lead organization but are eligible as co-applicants or third-party organizations. 
  • At most, one person can apply as the principal investigator, only for one project.
  • Multi-country applications are encouraged. 

Concept notes that will NOT be considered are those that:

  • do not clearly articulate gender considerations

  • comprise consortia (research teams from diverse funded institutions involved in each project) without an LMIC partner

  • focus on policy development

  • are harmful to the environment

  • focus on wildlife conservation 

  • focus on infrastructural development or support (e.g. drilling boreholes) 
  • are based on grants or subsidies to farmers
  • do not include a private sector partner

Applicants must have independent legal status (or “legal personality”) and be capable of contracting in their own right and name, receiving and administering funds, and have authority to direct proposed project activities. Applicants must be able to demonstrate legal status through written documentation. 

For more information about eligibility please refer to our frequently asked questions.

88. Expectations of projects

Concept notes will also be evaluated by an external scientific review panel based on the following criteria:

A) High-quality research for impact

Concept notes will be assessed against the following four quality dimensions (refer to IDRC’s Research Quality Plus (RQ+) framework for more details):

  1. Scientific rigour: The extent to which the research design demonstrates accepted standards of technical merit for its domain and discipline. This involves an assessment of the structural quality of the research protocol, including the following: the research is framed by examination of current knowledge on the issue; clear presentation of research questions and data-collection strategies; adherence to methodological standards for the type of research; identification of relevant analytical frameworks; grounded conclusions; and well-considered reporting and sharing.

  2. Research legitimacy: The extent to which the research concept note accounts for the concerns and insights of relevant stakeholders and addresses potential environmental consequences. IDRC has defined three sub-dimensions for assessing the legitimacy of the proposed research:

    • addressing potentially negative consequences: appropriateness of proposed strategies to address the risk of negative consequences of the research process or expected outcomes 

    • gender equality and inclusion (see B, below)

    • engagement with local knowledge:  extent to which the research concept note is contextually grounded relative to the appropriate scale (community-level, national, regional or global) at which the research is designed 

  3. Research importance: This is the value of the research questions for intended users and uses. IDRC has defined two sub-dimensions for assessing research importance:

    • originality: potential to contribute to theory and/or practice in terms of innovation in generating new knowledge relative to current state of the research field or context 

    • relevance: extent to which the proposed research design and expected outputs and outcomes address existing social and/or environmental problems. 

  4. Positioning for use: The extent to which the research design has a knowledge-sharing plan that will enhance the probability of use and impact. IDRC has defined two sub-dimensions for assessing positioning for use:

    • user engagement: degree to which the research concept note has incorporated plans to build meaningful, two-way connections with intended knowledge users at appropriate stages of the research process 

    • openness and actionability: appropriateness and feasibility of the plans in the concept note for sharing research data and results. This includes the extent to which the knowledge-sharing plan has considered tailoring products to be timely, useful, comprehensible and attractive to knowledge users, as well as following guidance on whether a data-management plan is required. 

B) IDRC gender-equality and inclusion considerations

IDRC strives for equality in all aspects of its work. We support the generation of knowledge — including by individuals from diverse genders, communities, histories and experiences — that tackles the systems that perpetuate inequalities based on identity. Inequalities exist across multiple and intersecting categories of identity, including, but not limited to, the following: gender, sexuality, age, class, race, caste, ethnicity, citizenship status, religion and ability. Taking an intersectional approach to gender equality recognizes these differences and understands diversity as central to advancing equality. Given that gender inequality is a significant barrier across all dimensions of diversity, IDRC invests specific efforts in ensuring its work promotes gender equality and inclusion (see Annex 5). 

For additional background, please see IDRC’s Equality Statement.

Accordingly, concept notes should demonstrate how gender equality and inclusion will be promoted and adopted using an intersectional approach, with respect to the following:

  • team composition and organizations comprising the research team
  • the design and implementation of the proposed research

More specifically:

  • consideration of gender for the formation of the research consortium
  • consideration of gender during the hiring process 
  • gender-specific commitments will include training provided by IDRC 

C) Southern leadership

IDRC’s mandate is to promote inclusive development in the Global South. Projects that are led by researchers from the Global South will be mandatory in this call.  

More specifically, scientists working for institutions of origin and located in LMICs are strongly encouraged to apply as leads of the scientific consortium. CSLS will only accept concept notes that include at least one lead scientist for an LMIC in the consortium to ensure capacity building, international collaboration and cultural diversity.

Other complementary criteria: 

  • level of leadership in the research area
  • proposed research that adopts a systems approach to strengthen, rather than create silos of information or action
  • existing capacity of participating institution(s) to carry out the research, including financial and administrative capacity
  • feasibility of achieving project goals and objectives, as well as appropriateness of proposed human and financial resources
  • support from other agencies or institutions (formal letters of support are required as proof)
  • where relevant, strength of the project monitoring, evaluation and learning plan
  • attention to ethical considerations and potential risks
  • potential for, or commitment of, local contribution and in-kind resources

D) Climate-change considerations

Under the 2030 strategy, IDRC will invest in knowledge, innovation and solutions for equitable, sustainable and diverse food systems. The overarching goal is to build the resilience of communities most vulnerable to climate change and to the emerging health threats that arise from food systems. Work under this theme will address the gap in adaptation practice, identify limits to adaptation, help avoid maladaptation, and harness synergies and reduce trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation and interaction with other major development risks to advance sustainable development. Important is that the concept notes focus on innovative approaches, taking into account climate hotspots and livestock densities and production systems for Sub-Saharan smallholder farmers. Results under this theme will help people and societies pursue climate-resilient development pathways and seize opportunities for transformative change.

Concept notes must:

  • detail the major milestones towards the main objective
  • demonstrate focus on climatic hotspots and livestock densities
  • demonstrate that they have considered the potential environmental impacts of their activities
  • describe how any potential harmful effects will be mitigated
  • detail potential benefits
  • demonstrate knowledge of and plans to comply with the Nagoya Protocol for transfer of genetic and Indigenous knowledge across countries

The proposed research should consider: 

  • the impact of product research and development on the global carbon footprint, such as in waste reduction, lowering animal mortalities and inefficient livestock production
  • locally relevant R&D — region-specific and production system-specific R&D on climate-smart livestock practices
  • combining research with technologies that are accessible to vulnerable populations who are most affected by climate change, including children, youth, women, persons living with disabilities, Indigenous people and communities in climate-vulnerable situations.

99. Submission process

IDRC invites eligible applicants to submit research concept notes. Concept notes will be submitted through SurveyMonkey. Apply for this call before the deadline.

  • Applications must be received no later than January 25, 2024 at 12:00 PM EST. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Applications can be submitted in either English or French.
  • An acknowledgement of receipt of your submission will be sent to all applicants whose application was received before the closing date and time.
  • Invitation to submit a concept note is not a guarantee that it will be funded. Unsuccessful concept notes may be re-submitted to future CSLS calls or any other funding organisation at the discretion of the applicant.

1010. Format and requirements for concept notes

The application form for this call for concept notes can be found on the Survey Monkey Apply platform.

As part of the application process, applicants will be required to submit the following individual/institutional documents:

  • Tentative schedule and estimated budget in the working currency of your institution:
  • The bios (in an annex) of the principal investigators and lead co-applicants.
  • Letters of other institutions willing to collaborate or that are supporting the study should be attached.
  • IDRC’s institutional profile questionnaire must be completed, signed and submitted for each applying institution along with the concept note. 
  • Legal documentation by which the lead and co-applicant organization was founded or created in the location in which it is based. These are corporate documents including statuses. Upload copies for each organization with which IDRC will enter into a funding agreement (up to a maximum of three).

IDRC reserves the right to rescind its selection of a project if it is deemed that the information provided in the application is false or misleading.

1111. Evaluation criteria

Review criteria

Percentage of score (%)

Innovative approach

The concept note:

  • details of clear application of cutting-edge climate-smart livestock systems technologies/innovations relevant to smallholders in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • demonstrates well-defined objectives, clearly described methodology, and a compelling justification for the innovative approach proposed
  • describes a clear innovation
  • if possible, builds in a mechanism for long-term data collection to capture results over the long-term
  • is inclusive, responding to the needs of vulnerable populations, including women, poor farmers, youth and ethnic minorities
  • considers systems change and how technology can relate to social and technological transformation
  • demonstrates what is being done differently from what has been tried in the past (This may be a new idea or may be about disseminating ideas that work elsewhere — not necessarily a new technology.)
  • has considered IP management and Nagoya protocols, where applicable






The concept note:

  • describes how the proposed results will be achieved within the 36- month funding period and the allocated budget 
  • provides clear and achievable milestones within the 36-month funding period



Expertise and composition of research team

The research team is multisectoral, multicountry and demonstrates strong expertise in climate change, gender and livestock production systems and demonstrates a proven record in bringing technologies/innovations to proof of concept.



Cross-cutting considerations 

  • Demonstrates how the project will include and empower women and youth throughout the research process, and how it specifically contributes to the narrowing of gender gaps in the climate-smart livestock systems development process (see Annex 2).
  • Presents an environmental management plan that ensures compliance with existing laws. 
  • Demonstrates awareness of the specific LMIC climate adaptation/mitigation context under study and identifies and includes local expertise.   



Total score


1212. Selection process

Responding to this call is the first step in the application process for potentially securing funding for your concept note. 

Applications will first be screened for eligibility using the eligibility criteria outlined in section 7.

Applications that do not fulfill the eligibility criteria will be removed. IDRC staff will conduct an assessment to determine which concept notes will proceed to a full technical review. Research concept notes will then be assessed by an external scientific advisory committee that will evaluate and rank them according to the review criteria outlined above. This committee comprises IDRC program staff and external reviewers from different related disciplines, including those with expertise in scientific research and technology. Other areas of expertise may include regulatory and scientific industry experience, as well as expertise in gender, diversity and inclusion, environment assessment, knowledge translation and/or knowledge users. These reviewers will assess the applications according to the evaluation criteria outlined in section 11. 

Concept notes will be graded in accordance with the evaluation criteria. However, recommendations will not be made solely based on the technical evaluation score. The technical selection of a concept note does not constitute a formal commitment by IDRC to fund the project. Applicants whose concept notes are selected will be asked to submit full proposals. The scientific advisory committee will provide the ranked concept notes with their evaluations to the IDRC CSLS team, who will invite the shortlisted applicants to proceed to the full proposal stage. Submitted full proposals will undergo a round of evaluations by the scientific advisory committee, which will then present recommendations to the governance steering committee (GSC). The GSC will select the final list of full proposals for funding based on the evaluations and recommendations, and direct the CSLS team to follow up with selected full proposals for funding. The GSC reserves the right to take a portfolio approach in its selection of projects.

Following selection by the GSC, successful and non-successful applicants will receive notification of the results.

Successful full proposals may receive specific comments from IDRC and reviewers to be addressed, including budgetary adjustments, as needed. Applicants will be required to satisfactorily address the reviewers’ and IDRC staff comments before receiving any grant.

Successful full proposals recommended for funding will undergo an institutional assessment of the applicants’ organisations. This step assesses the potential risk of material loss of IDRC funds either due to weaknesses in the capacity of an applicant’s institution to manage or report on the financial aspects of project activities or because of economic and political conditions relating to the institution's operating environment. IDRC needs to review three broad areas in its assessment of what measures should be applied to minimize such risk: 

  • the materiality of the investment
  • the management capacity of the applicant’s institution
  • the wider environment within which the organization operates

IDRC will have no obligation to deliver funds to the applicant until the applicant returns an executed Grant Agreement — Climate-Smart Livestock Systems Terms and Conditions, which IDRC will issue. 

1313. Additional requirements

A) Research ethics and safeguarding

Research work must be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards, in keeping with IDRC’s Corporate Principles on Research Ethics. Grantees are expected to follow their own institutions’ guidelines for ethical principles.

Prior to commencing research, applicants may need to obtain approval from an official institutional or national research ethics body. In contexts where there is no official institutional or national research ethics body, the applications will need to propose how applicants plan to set up an ethics committee for the project. 

After approval of the project by IDRC, successful organizations are expected to submit the ethics and security protocols to IDRC and monitor and report on ethical risks and their management as the research is implemented. It is expected that the funded institutions have safeguarding policies in place. After projects are approved, IDRC will provide to all selected projects training on safeguarding to ensure it is well understood. 

B) Intellectual property

  1. The project must demonstrate how existing and future intellectual property (IP) protections applicable to the project’s subject matter product have been considered and will be managed to enable the program objective to advance prophylactic and therapeutic alternatives to antimicrobials to improve health, while reducing the use of antimicrobials in ruminants and aquaculture (fish and shellfish) operations in LMICs. This includes securing the rights to carry out the research and the rights necessary for the product to be available at a reasonable cost in LMIC markets. 

  2. Applicants must submit an IP strategy at the full proposal stage that sets out all relevant IP considerations relative to CSLS’s objectives. This strategy will be used to anticipate risks to the project’s success. At a minimum, the IP Strategy must address the elements listed in Annex 1. 

  3. Applicants must sign an Intellectual Property Rights Agreement with IDRC for IP rights related to project inventions made in the course of the project. In addition to other requirements, this agreement will require the grantee to:

    • retain ownership if the invention remains with the grantee, unless assigned in accordance with the agreement

    • be responsible for any patent expenses for all patent application(s) for the project IP rights filed by the grantee

    • provide IDRC with advance notice of any application for IP protection, assignment or licence in the invention

    • provide march-in rights for IDRC to proceed with patent protection in specified circumstances. March in rights are rights granted to IDRC to ensure that the public interest is protected.

    • licence to IDRC the ability to use and sub-licence the right to use the invention and related IP rights for research purposes

    • licence the invention for use in LMICs on reasonable terms, as approved by IDRC

  4. In addition to the minimum requirements in the IP Strategy, IDRC encourages consideration of the following:

    • IDRC encourages the signing of a consortium agreement so that all rights and obligations are established within the research consortium from the beginning. The consortium agreement must be led by the lead institution and involve all funded institutions for each project.

    • It is important for research teams to be aware of and put in place a plan for compliance with Nagoya Protocol, especially where genetic material or Indigenous knowledge might have to be imported/exported within the project framework. Local regulation concerning this should be considered.

    • It is strongly recommended that the consortium have material transfer agreements and non-disclosure agreements in place to protect the invention, particularly if third parties are paid to do some of the work.

C) Capacity strengthening

We strongly encourage projects that combine research with capacity strengthening of researchers, civil society organizations, research users and community members. 

Examples of capacity-strengthening activities include training, mentoring, networking, opportunities for publishing, presenting or engaging with researcher users, and opportunities to take on new roles and responsibilities, among others. 

Capacity strengthening can focus on a range of research-related skills, such as the ability to identify and analyze development challenges; conceive, conduct, manage and communicate high-quality research; and/or share and use the knowledge and innovation generated by research to address challenges over time and in a sustainable manner. Strengthening leadership skills, particularly for marginalized or underrepresented students, early-career researchers or emerging community leaders, is also an important capacity-strengthening consideration. 

Projects that have a mix of experienced and early-career researchers are also encouraged. It is expected that the institutions involved in each consortium share knowledge and help build capacity for those in need.

D) Open access and data-management plan

Applicants funded through this program will be expected to comply with IDRC’s Open Access Policy and IDRC Open Data Statement of Principles. Each accepted article must be accompanied by a data availability statement that describes where any primary data, associated metadata, original software and additional relevant materials necessary to understand, assess and replicate the reported study findings in totality can be found. Any limitations on meeting this requirement should be identified and managed through data-management plans (DMPs). Notwithstanding the requirements of IDRC’s Open Access Policy, no embargo period will be available for this program and all publications must be made open access immediately at the time of publication.

IDRC requires the use of DMPs for this program. We have two templates: Stage 1 and 2 DMPs. Stage 1 DMPs require less detailed information and Stage 2 DMPs assume applicants have a good understanding of their data-collection and management plans. The DMP templates can be found here

E) Required network collaboration

To foster deeper shared learning and collaboration across countries and projects, project teams will be expected to participate in a series of joint activities, with all funded projects across the African sub-regions. The CSLS team will coordinate shared learning efforts and will organize joint activities with project teams at key points in the research process. These activities will include an inception workshop, mid-term workshops to share findings and a closing workshop. The CSLS team will also interact with individual teams and groups of teams, through virtual platforms, to provide support and coaching on research activities, and to stimulate peer-to-peer exchanges and learning across the project cohorts. 

F) Multidisciplinary and multisectoral collaboration

The applicant is required to show identified themes and areas of work that reflect the interconnectedness of their work with different disciplines. The applicant should also indicate any levels of collaboration being developed among sectors, especially with the private sector.

G) Knowledge sharing and scaling

Knowledge sharing

A key objective of IDRC’s Strategy 2030 is to share knowledge for greater uptake and use, increasing the reach and impact that IDRC-supported research has in driving solutions and in influencing national, regional and global development agendas, including through synthesizing and communicating results. 

Applicants must explain how their concept note responds to an emerging need, knowledge gap or demand, and they must demonstrate intentionality and identify opportunities to move knowledge (research evidence) into action (policy, social and behavioural change, etc.). 

Applications must include a knowledge-sharing strategy that identifies key knowledge users and that describes the anticipated approach to engage these strategic stakeholders (ideally throughout the research process) to support research uptake and use and/or scale impact (by optimizing impact beyond original project boundaries). Note that IDRC anticipates supporting the implementation of knowledge-sharing plans integrated into project concept notes — provided the resources required are clearly described, appropriate and incorporated as part of the overall project budget.

Scaling impact

IDRC recognizes that this call is for technology development projects. Therefore, the scaling impact is at the scientific research level, including scientists, students and other possible important stakeholders, such as farmers. 

Please note as you develop a scaling-impact strategy that IDRC’s scaling science approach focuses on scaling impact rather than scaling specific actions or innovation. This means that scaling is not necessarily about pushing up or out, because bigger outputs or more actions do not always lead to better impact. Aiming for impact at optimal scale requires balancing multiple dimensions of impact, including equity, sustainability, variety and magnitude. You can refer to The Scaling Playbook: A Practical Guide for Researchers for guidance on this approach. 

While it may not be possible to address all these considerations to the same degree, their integration and inclusion into the applications will be a key component in the evaluation process.

1414. Post-selection requirements

Concept note and budget finalization 

IDRC reserves the right to request any revisions to the submitted concept note towards a full proposal and budget. A more detailed IDRC budget template will be provided for full proposals. A full proposal with the necessary revisions must be returned in a timely manner to IDRC. 

Country clearance requirements

In some cases, IDRC has scientific and technical cooperation agreements with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes that comply. Otherwise, grantees must follow a government authority’s prevailing approval procedure. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction.

An IDRC grant administration representative will advise the selected applicant if any country procedures need to be followed. A grant agreement will be issued only if and once country clearance(s) are obtained. IDRC reserves the right not to pursue the funding of a selected project if the country approval is not secured within six months after IDRC officially announces approval of the project, as this would jeopardize the timely completion of the initiative. 

After an institutional assessment of an applicant’s organization is performed, IDRC may identify operational or financial weaknesses that could pose some administrative risks to the proposed project. In such cases, IDRC reserves the right to request the applicant’s organization to partner with another institution as a condition of receiving the grant.   

Sub recipients

In cases where the recipient will manage sub-grantees, the country requirements that apply to sub-grantees are also documented in the grant agreement. It becomes the responsibility of the grantee to ensure that sub-grantees meet these requirements. 

Country risk 

IDRC funds research in locations that respond to the corporate and programmatic plans and objectives approved by IDRC’s Board of Governors. Project concept notes and risk-mitigation measures may need to be revised where:

  • project activities may be affected by legal restrictions on transferring funds or other resources to specific entities 
  • due to physical remoteness, physical risks to IDRC employees in particular regions (or other inaccessibility factors) prevent IDRC from properly monitoring and supporting the project 
  • applicable laws and regulations prevent institutions from accessing funds 

1515. Timeline and communication of results

Submission process 

Call launch: November 30, 2023

Information session/webinar: December 21, 2023

Deadline for submitting concept notes; receipt of concept notes acknowledged: January 25, 2024

Selection process 

External review completed by ERP: week of February 25, 2024

Successful concept note applicants informed they have been selected for full proposals contingent on meeting any specific conditions: March 1, 2024

Proposal-writing workshop: week of March 4, 2024

Applicants submit full proposals: no later than March 30, 2024


Approval of full proposals by GSC: May 3, 2024

Project start date: June 1, 2024

1616. Information session, inquiries and FAQs

Following the launch of the call for concept notes, IDRC organized an information session to address any queries from potential applicants. IDRC’s responses to the queries in the information session as well as those received by email have been compiled into this document.  

All inquiries received after January 15, 2024, at 14:00 EST are not guaranteed a response. We encourage applicants to read the FAQs and the information session Q&A document carefully to find the answers to their question. 

1717. Permission for use and disclosure of information

As a Canadian Crown corporation, IDRC is subject to Canada’s Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Consequently, any submissions in response to this call for concept notes will be managed by IDRC in a manner consistent with applicable legislation and IDRC’s Privacy Policy, including IDRC's obligations to disclose documents requested by members of the public or requests for personal information. More information on how IDRC manages information in accordance with this legislation can be accessed here: Access to Information and Privacy

By submitting an application under this call, the applicant will consent to the use of the documents and information as well as the disclosure of the documents submitted by the applicant to the reviewers involved in the selection process, both within IDRC and externally for the purposes of evaluating the concept note for funding by IDRC. To the extent that the application contains personal information, the applicant is responsible for obtaining informed consent from the individuals whose personal information is being shared. The applicant further consents to the disclosure of the name of the applicant, the name of the lead researcher and the name of the proposed project in any announcement of selected concept notes. All personal information collected by IDRC about grant, scholarship and fellowship applicants is used to review applications, administer and monitor awards, and promote and support international development research in Canada and in the regions where IDRC operates. 

ANNEX1ANNEX 1 — IP Strategy

IP Strategy components:

  1. Existing IP (“Background IP”) and parameters of the same, including:
    • list of all background IP
    • what is applicable to research/applicable to commercialization
    • who owns the background IP
    • applicable licences
  2. Anticipated IP (“foreground IP”) development:
    • anticipated development
    • jurisdictions to file
    • who will own the IP
  3. Strategic considerations:
    • The ultimate objective of the CSLS program is to make available technologies that increase livestock production, aid adaptation and reduce emissions for farmers in Sub-Saharan African countries. 
    • Describe how the project will ensure that IP parameters identified in section 1, above, will not prohibit the program objective.
    • Describe how the project will leverage IP protections to advance the program objective.
    • Describe how the rights of different inventors will be managed (i.e. consortia agreements, etc.).
    • How will the global access requirement be met (See sections A9 and A10 of the Grant Agreement — Climate-Smart Livestock Systems Terms and Conditions)? Global access means the knowledge and information gained from the project will be promptly and broadly disseminated and project Inventions will be made available and accessible.

    • Identify any anticipated obstacles to achieving global access (e.g. third-party rights, restrictions on background technology, time frame, affordability).

ANNEX2ANNEX 2 — Resources for gender equality and inclusion (GEI)

Here is a selection of resources applicants may wish to consult for further information, guidance and examples:

ASSAR. (n.d.). Infographic: Gender is one of the many factors that influence how we are impacted by and respond to climate change. Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions. 

CARE. (n.d.). Gender and Inclusion Toolbox.

Chaplin, D., Twigg, J., & Lovell, E. (2019). Intersectional approaches to vulnerability reduction and resilience-building (Resilience Intel, Issue 12). BRACED.

Dupar, M. and P. Velasco. (2021). Advancing gender equality and climate action: A practical guide to setting targets and monitoring progress. Cape Town: Climate and Development Knowledge Network.

Kratzer, S. & Le Masson, V. (n.d.). 10 things to know: Gender equality and climate goals. Climate Development Knowledge Network. 

Monjurul Kabir, A. H. et al. (2021). Intersectionality Resource Guide and Toolkit. UN Women.

Mullinax, M., Hart, J., & Vargas Garcia, A. (2018). Using Research for Gender-Transformative Change: Principles and practice.


Glossary of terms

Note that the following definitions have been compiled to strive for a shared and consistent use and understanding of key terms related to gender equality and inclusion for the purposes of this call for concept notes. Definitions have been drawn from multiple sources and adapted to reflect the CSLS context and principles. We encourage proponents who prefer to use alternative definitions to those offered below to be explicit about the particular definition they employ.

Diversity* consists of the conditions, expressions and experiences of different groups identified by age, culture, ethnicity, education, gender, disability, sexual orientation, migration status, geography, language, religious beliefs and other factors. 

Genderˆ£ ǂ refers to the roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society at a given time considers appropriate for men, boys, women, girls and people with diverse gender identities. Gender is socially constructed, learned through socialization processes and plays out through relationships. It is context/time-specific and changeable. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women, men and people of diverse genders in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is often conceptualized as a binary (girl/woman and boy/man), but there is considerable diversity in how individuals and groups understand, experience and express it, including nongendered, non-binary and transgendered. Gender is one of many factors that influence how people are impacted by climate change and natural hazards.

Gender analysisˆ is a critical examination of how differences in gender roles, activities, needs, opportunities and rights/entitlements affect men, women, girls, boys and non-binary people in certain situations or contexts. Gender analysis examines the relationships between females, males and non-binary people and their access to and control of resources and the constraints they face relative to each other. Integrating a gender analysis into research helps to ensure that gender-based injustices and inequalities are not exacerbated by interventions, and that, where possible, greater equality and justice in gender relations are promoted.

Gender equalityˆ refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men, girls and boys, and non-binary people. Equality does not mean that women, men and non-binary people will become the same, but that people’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of women, men and non-binary people are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups. 

Inclusion£ǂ  refers to the practice of ensuring that all individuals are valued and respected for their contributions and are equally supported. Research into inclusion aims to understand why some people are more at risk to changes in climate, and how their social positions influence their vulnerability and capacity to respond to climate signals in particular contexts. Advancing inclusion has two interrelated dimensions: 

  1. improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in social, political and economic development processes
  2. enhancing the agency of those who are excluded on the basis of social positions 

Intersectionality°ǂ recognises that people’s lives are shaped by their identities, relationships and social factors. These interact to create intersecting forms of privilege and oppression depending on a person’s context and existing power structures such as patriarchy, ableism, colonialism, imperialism, homophobia and racism. We use the concept of intersectionality to emphasize that inequalities experienced in relation to climate change and adaptation are seldom the result of a single social category, but result from the intersections of multiple social positions (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, disability, etc.) and depend on existing systems and structures of power.

Intersectional analysis° looks beyond gender to examine multiple identity factors and root causes that produce vulnerability, oppression and privilege in certain situations or contexts.

Marginalised groups are those who have been systematically or historically excluded from participation or influence in society and/or who frequently experience exclusion from exercising rights and freedoms. 

Sex* refers to the genotypic and phenotypic attributes of an individual, which are manifested in a person’s biological and physiological traits. It is most often determined by a medical assessment at the moment of birth. This is also referred to as birth-assigned sex. 

Transformational changeǂ refers to change that addresses the root causes of social and gender inequality and exclusion. It moves beyond the individual and entails change at the level of structures. It implies using transformative approaches that focus on institutional structures and norms as key barriers to equality and inclusion, as opposed to accommodating approaches that focus on closing gender and social exclusion gaps through improving availability of resources and services within a given institutional context. This also requires a deliberate effort to sustainably increase the life choices of individuals and groups, rather than a temporary increase in opportunities.


Murray, C. J., Ikuta, K. S., Sharara, F., Swetschinski, L., Robles Aguilar, G., Gray, A., Han, C., Bisignano, C., Rao, P., Wool, E., Johnson, S. C., Browne, A. J., Chipeta, M. G., Fell, F., Hackett, S., Haines-Woodhouse, G., Kashef Hamadani, B. H., Kumaran, E. A. P., McManigal, B., … Naghavi, M. (2022). Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis. The Lancet, 399(10325), 629–655.

Thomas P. Van Boeckel et al., Global trends in antimicrobial resistance in animals in low- and middle-income countries.Science 365,eaaw1944(2019).DOI:10.1126/science.aaw1944

FAO 2020, The state of world fisheries and aquaculture: Sustainability in action.

The Future of Food and Agriculture – Trends and Challenges; FAO: Rome, 2017.

Combe, M.; Reverter, M.; Caruso, D.; Pepey, E.; Gozlan, R.E. Impact of Global Warming on the Severity of Viral Diseases: A Potentially Alarming Threat to Sustainable Aquaculture Worldwide. Microorganisms 2023, 11, 1049. microorganisms11041049

Marshall BM, Levy SB. Food animals and antimicrobials: impacts on human health. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2011 Oct;24(4):718-33. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00002-11. PMID: 21976606; PMCID: PMC3194830.

ˆ UN Women Training Centre. Gender Equality Glossary. Retrieved March 24, 2022 from:

₹ IDRC (2019) Transforming gender relations: Insights from IDRC research. Retrieved March 24, 2022 from:  

° Monjurul Kabir, A. H. et al. (2021) Intersectionality Resource Guide and Toolkit. Retrieved March 24, 2022 from:

£ Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Best Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research. Retrieved March 24, 2022 from:  

ǂ  van Eerdewijk A, Bråten Y, Danielsen K (2021) Integration of gender equality and social inclusion considerations into CLARE. Retrieved March 24, 2022 from: 

* Women and Gender Equality Canada. (April 14, 2021). Introduction to GBA + - Glossary. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from:

ANNEX3ANNEX 3 — Country representation for the regional consultative meetings


East Africa 

Southern Africa 

Western and Central Africa

Countries Outside Africa





United States of America


South Sudan

South Africa


United Kingdom



















Congo DRC




















The Gambia










Cape Verde









Cote D’Ivoire




Burkina Faso