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21/527 Development Award – Local authority-level research priorities on climate change


  • For help with your application contact
  • For more information about the funding Programme, visit the PHR Page

Supporting Information

*Please note: This document is to be used as a guide and to assist with completion of the on-line application form only, for example to see how many characters are accepted in each section and how the printed complete form is laid out. Please do not try to use this as an application form, you must apply using the online form available through the links available when calls are open. You should also refer to the application form guidance notes which can be found next to the ‘Apply Now’ button.

Helping the NIHR Public Health Research Programme to identify  key local authority-level research priorities on climate change

The Public Health Research (PHR) Programme is accepting direct-to-Stage 2 applications to this funding opportunity to help the Programme to identify key research priorities on climate change. In order to apply you will need to carefully review the:

Commissioning brief

Climate change is continuing apace, with the planet’s average surface temperature now 1.2° Celsius higher than in the late 19th century. Limiting the increase to a maximum of 1.5° Celsius is recognised to be essential to contain the climate change-related risks to people’s health. The UK now has a legally-binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and the 2020s are crucial to achieving this. Many of the low-carbon actions required to limit climate change and protect people’s health are ones that need to be implemented at community and area level. 

The remit and interests of the PHR Programme cover national, regional and local interventions and for this particular call, the PHR Programme is interested in action at a local level.

Scope of the call

This funding opportunity provides specific funding of up to £100,000 over a maximum of six months for an academic team to help the PHR Programme to develop a range of PHR Programme-relevant key research priorities that will aim to address important evidence gaps in this topic area.

The PHR Programme anticipates that the work will be focused on particular aspects of climate change that are of relevance to local authorities and partner agencies to identify practical measures that can be taken to protect public health. The PHR Programme is interested in:

  1. Actions and policies that local authorities can take that will limit climate change
  2. Actions and adaptations that local authorities can take that will mitigate the health and health inequality impacts of climate change

Adaptation is an essential and integral part of an effective public health response to climate change and this includes proactive adaptation – anticipating and adapting to risks as these emerge, change and intensify.

Applicants will be expected to have expertise in the relevant national and local policy context including, for example, the Climate Change Committee’s Policies for the Sixth Carbon Budget and Net Zero, Local Authorities and the Sixth Carbon Budget, and the NHS’s commitments to delivering a net zero NHS.

Local focus

Due to the broad and complex nature of this topic, the PHR Programme is at this point interested only in the identification of key research priorities that are relevant for action by local authorities and the new Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). Successful teams will be expected to collaborate with a range of local decision-makers and other potential ICS stakeholders as part of the work.

The PHR Programme is interested in the identification of research priorities that function at a population level and that take account of the populations most exposed to the impacts of climate change. The PHR Programme recognises that the climate change agenda impacts different localities in different ways and interventions aimed at climate change mitigation can have positive and negative impacts on different populations. Applicants need to justify their choice of locality and population and how the research priorities that are identified might, or might not, be generalizable to the whole of the UK.


The expected outputs from this funding opportunity are:

  1. A description of research priorities in a format that can be used for a PHR commissioned call (see NIHR PHR Programme funding opportunities for examples of commissioned calls)
  2. A supporting report describing methodology and findings (4,000 words maximum)

The outputs will be used to form the basis of a future commissioned call (or calls) for new public health research on climate change.
It is expected that the supporting report will include:

  • Outline of the key research priorities and questions
  • Record of engagement
  • Summary of the main evidence gaps
  • Summary of any desk-based research such as evidence briefings or mapping reviews

Applicants should note that:

  • Research priorities identified must meet the PHR Programme’s remit
  • The PHR Programme expects nominated members from the Programme to be involved in this work throughout to ensure that the product is of use to the Programme
  • An economic component to this work is seen as essential in order that interventions / policies can demonstrate cost-effectiveness and/or return on investment – particularly if there is scope to upscale these actions in different areas
  • The PHR Programme welcomes applications that propose innovative approaches to undertake this work, as well as demonstrating how researchers from non-traditional public health disciplines will be engaged in the research
  • The PHR Programme anticipates that the engagement, identification and prioritisation work will result in a limited number of priority themes related to climate change (for example, extreme weather event frequency, poor air quality, anxiety about the future or food insecurity). Successful teams are not expected to undertake work on all these aspects of climate change
  • The PHR Programme only funds research that has health-related primary outcomes. It will accept other outcomes as long as the link to health can be justified
  • The PHR Programme is only interested in the identification of key research questions that take a population- or community-level approach.

Applications that aim to identify research priorities that meet the needs of under-served communities are especially welcome. We would also welcome any application led/co-led by early career researchers.


In proportion with the level of funding available, this is a direct to Stage 2/ Expression of Interest funding opportunity. Applications received by 30 November 2021 will be assessed by a sub-committee of the PHR Programme Prioritisation and Funding Committees. Applications will be assessed for importance to public health, scientific quality, feasibility and value for money. Successful applicants will be expected to begin the work within two months of the funding decision being communicated.

Successful applicants will be expected to produce outputs as detailed above. Any other outputs (e.g. journal articles) must be accessible in line with NIHR’s Open Access policy.
For any further enquiries, please contact

Apply Now


The PHR Programme held a webinar for this call, and 21/523 Image and performance enhancing drugs; 21/524 Health impacts of housing-led interventions for homeless people; 21/525 Permitted Development Rights; 21/530 Application Development Award - Healthy extended working lives, on Tuesday 14 September 2021, 10:00-11:00am. If you would like to receive a link to the webinar recording and the webinar slides, please email