ORCID

Abstract

International research and development projects (or grand challenge projects) consist of multicultural, multi-country, multi-sectoral, and multi-stakeholder initiatives aimed at poverty reduction. They are usually conceived as partnerships between actors in the global north–south. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major unexpected disruption to ongoing projects and challenged their already complex management. The aim of this paper is to present evidence on how international development projects were impacted by COVID-19 with a particular focus on the relationship between research institutions in the north and south. We conducted a mixed-methods research study, combining a reflective exercise with the co-author team and a survey with principal investigators, project managers, and capacity development leads drawn from 31 Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) projects funded through the UK government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) and focused on social–ecological system research. The survey contained closed- and open-ended questions in order to (i) demonstrate how those involved in managing projects adapted to risks, including both threats and opportunities, presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and (ii) consider the implications for tailoring adaptive management approaches in international research projects amidst uncertainties, with a special focus on enhancing equities in global north–south partnerships. The paper offers the following recommendations on designing, planning, and implementing international research and development projects: (i) devolve project management in order to enhance project resilience and improve north–south equities; (ii) allocate dedicated resources to enable equitable north–south research partnerships; (iii) rely more on hybrid and agile approaches for managing a project’s life cycle; and (iv) improve resource flexibility, transparency, and communication through enhanced funder–implementer collaboration.

DOI

10.3390/land12040791

Publication Date

2023-03-31

Publication Title

Land

Volume

12

Issue

4

First Page

791

Last Page

791

Embargo Period

2023-04-18

Organisational Unit

School of Biological and Marine Sciences

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