At the April meeting Sustained Arctic Observing Network (SAON) Board meeting, Erica Key from the US National Science Foundation gave an update on the Belmont Forum that might be of interest to CliC Researchers. Greg Flato, CliC Scientific Steering Group Chair attended the meeting and can be contacted for further information.

The Belmont Forum (http://igfagcr.org/index.php/belmont-forum) is a subset of the IGFA nations, including representatives from 13 nations, the European Union, and 2 international scientific councils (ICSU, and ISSC). The Forum identifies shared global priorities and leads multi-national calls for proposals called Collaborative Research Actions (CRA). Past examples of Belmont CRAs include calls for research on coastal vulnerability and freshwater security. The Forum requires each Collaborative Research Action to address the Belmont Challenge: To deliver knowledge needed for action to avoid and adapt to detrimental environmental change including extreme hazardous events. Belmont further requires consideration of human and natural systems in each proposal, and a minimum of three nations involved in each project.

The themes for an Arctic CRA — Arctic observing and Arctic sustainability science — were developed during a first scoping workshop in Canada during the IPY meeting in 2012. These themes were approved by the Belmont Forum Principals at their spring 2013 meeting.

A second Belmont Forum scoping workshop was held in Vancouver during the first Arctic Observing Summit. The three Belmont nations which are leading the development of the call are Canada (Isabelle Blain, NSERC), Norway (Kirsten Broch Mathisen, Forskningsradet), and the US (Erica Key, NSF).  
 
The purpose for the second workshop was to develop the sphere of interest around these topic areas by soliciting national priorities, existing and planned funding programs, and potential new monies that would target these two themes. This information would guide the drafting of the call and provide an idea of those countries willing to be listed as partners on the call.
 
The Collaborative Research Action does not require all partners to fund all sciences. National annexes provide each partner agency the opportunity to spell out specific interests in the call and whether participation would be monetary or in-kind (personnel, access to facilities/labs/computer resources). The Forum encourages leveraging already funded activity and planned programs with some allowances to encourage international collaboration. This type of leveraging could include supplementing already funded investigators to participate in a multi-national effort.
 
Examples of national annexes and previous calls can be found here:
 
http://igfagcr.org/index.php/coastal-vulnerability-call
http://igfagcr.org/index.php/national-contact-points
 
A typical Belmont proposal would have a minimum of three investigators from three partner nations. Investigators from non-partnering nations may participate, but with the knowledge that they must bring their own salary/costs. The fundable proposals are reviewed by the relevant partner nations and each agency/nation funds only the investigator from their country. Monies are not pooled into a common pot. There is an understanding that funding from each of the contributing nations will be timely and not staggered in time to allow the awardees to participate on the same timeline.
 
At this time the Bemont forum continue to solicit inputs from interested funding agencies. The Bemont forum received a number of documents in Vancouver detailing programs, priorities, and potential structures of the call (multi-year call, capacity building and large collaborative proposals, etc). Much of the input received has been from natural science funding agencies and focused on observing. For the call to be viable, the Bemont forum must also determine interest from social science funders and balance the inputs to include information regarding sustainability science priorities.
 
It is not envisioned that the two themes would be separate. Observations that inform sustainability in the Arctic and Arctic sustainability questions that identify gaps in observing are two examples where they intersect.
 
A third scoping workshop has been planned for October 22-23, 2013 in Oslo. At that time, the Bemont forum hope to have received final inputs from interested participants and begin the drafting process and determine the timeline of calls, review process, and construct the national annexes. If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please contact Carina Leander, Senior Executive Officer, Forskningsradet (cle@forskningsradet.no).