Darwin Initiative Announces Opening of New Funding Round

[from Deep-Sea Life Vol 13]

Darwin Initiative Announces Opening of New Funding Round

The Darwin Initiative is funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and was announced at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. It supports developing countries to conserve biodiversity and reduce poverty and is the UK’s primary mechanism to champion biodiversity conservation and support the development of vibrant in-country conservation sectors.

Four of its programmes are now open to application.

Main Projects

Main Projects support projects tackling key threats to biodiversity in developing countries. Projects must also be able to demonstrate how they will help to achieve the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Applicant organisations can be based in any country although applications should preferably have a UK connection, consistent with the UK Aid Strategy.

There is no minimum or maximum award size. Awards have ranged from £50,000 to £430,000 (with an average project award of £300,000) for a three year Darwin project.

The minimum length of a project is 1 year and the maximum length is 3 years. Any budget commitment must end by 31 March 2023.


Fellowship Awards

Darwin Fellowships are targeted at promising individuals who have links with recent or current Darwin Initiative projects who are working in biodiversity or related fields or whose work may have an impact on biodiversity, and are from countries which are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources (including the Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom).

The host organisation where the individual will carry out the training or research must be in the UK. Applications for Fellowship funding should come from the UK organisation.

There is no specific minimum or maximum level for a Fellowship Award, however, a typical award is around £20,000 to £25,000.

Fellowships are provided for up to 14 months, and should start on or after 1 July 2020 and finish on or before 1 October 2021.


Partnership Projects

Partnership Projects (formerly Scoping Awards) are small grants intended to help organisations who are new to the Darwin Initiative to develop a robust application. The awards do this by:

  • Connecting organisations new to Darwin with partners who have experience of managing successful Darwin Projects; and/or
  • Supporting work to build new partnerships between applicant organisations.

Applications for partnership projects must be to establish new partnerships and must not simply be to continue existing working relationships. Defra would normally expect applications from partnerships involving around 2-4 organisations.

Funding up to a maximum of £10,000 is available.

In most cases, travel should commence after 1 April 2020 and, at the latest, be completed by 31 March 2021.


Darwin Plus (for UK Overseas Territories) programmes

Grants are available for projects working on environment or climate change issues in the UK’s Overseas Territories (UKOTs) that help deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in these locations. Regional projects (ie involving more than one UKOT) are encouraged and budgets for regional projects should be proportionate to the complexity of the issues tackled.

Projects may be new ideas, or build on existing work, but applicants will be expected to demonstrate that the proposed project will be of real value to the host UKOTs by meeting clearly identifiable needs and priorities, for example, as may be identified in OT roadmaps.

The key priorities for Darwin Plus in Round 8 are:

  • Delivering a Blue Belt of marine protection around the OTs
  • Conservation and effective management of coral reef, seagrass meadows and mangrove forest ecosystems
  • Dealing with invasive non-native species
  • Waste management strategies, particularly those with a focus on plastics
  • Responding to, and mitigating against, the impacts of natural disasters on the OTs
  • Implementing National Biodiversity Action Plans
  • Conservation, restoration and wise use of wetlands.

Application is open to all organisations working in the UKOTs. This may include UKOT Governments, NGOs, research institutions, the private sector and other stakeholders.

There is no minimum or maximum award size for Darwin Plus projects. The funding pot in any given year is, however, limited and projects with a value exceeding £300,000 are less likely to be funded.


The application deadlines are as follows:

  • Stage One applications to the Main Projects programme is 16 July 2019
  • Round 26 applications to the Partnership Project and Fellowship Awards is 5 November 2019
  • Round 8 Stage 1 UK Overseas Territories applications is 9 July 2019.

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