What is the National Environmental Science Program (NESP)?

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) 2 represents a $149 million investment by the Australian Government in applied environmental science to support decision-makers from across the Australian community, including Indigenous communities, build resilience while achieving positive environmental, social and economic outcomes.

 

Background

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) 2 represents a critical cross-cutting enabler that provides the evidence base for the design, delivery and on-ground monitoring of core Government environmental commitments and the basis for long-term environmental programs. The program will consist of multi-disciplinary research hubs or consortia hosted by Australian research institutions with national capability and be delivered where appropriate through regional nodes.

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) 2 will deliver applied scientific knowledge, decision tools and practical management options to support environmental commitments made by all levels of Government and other end-users.

 

Objectives

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) 2 will deliver applied scientific knowledge, decision tools and practical management options to support environmental commitments made by all levels of Government and other end-users.

The program will directly support:

  • the delivery of practical science to support decision-makers to build resilience in our natural environment and communities
  • development of collaborative partnerships between public and private sector stakeholders as well as Indigenous communities to maximise benefits for all Australians and their local environments
  • management of Australia’s unique environmental assets including our protected estate such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Park as well as threatened and migratory species and ecological communities
  • environmental assessment of development proposals under Commonwealth, state and territory regulations including by providing information on frequently triggered species and other matter
  • our understanding of the impact of plastic and other waste material on our natural ecosystems to support action to improve environmental outcomes
  • better understanding of our past, present and future climate to improve climate modelling and information delivery to inform adaptation planning for resilient regional and urban communities
  • the transition of new collection, monitoring and modelling capabilities from research to practical management tools including via targeted investment into eDNA, biogenomics, predictive modelling systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning

A key additional element of the program will be the capture of knowledge into national information repositories to ensure research outputs are easily accessible to all stakeholders and reusable to support multiple future end-user requirements.

The program will also support the development of critical human capital within the science community and related soft infrastructure through:

  • a requirement to invest in Indigenous research capability including in remote communities as appropriate
  • targeted investment in early to mid-career researchers to grow Australia’s scientific capability including Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathamatics (STEM) skills
  • actively fostering partnerships between researchers, end-users and local communities to establish trust and promote open engagement across different stakeholder groups.

The intended outcomes of National Environmental Science Program 2 are:

  • Credible peer reviewed, timely research that is used by decision-makers to answer questions and develop solutions to problems.
  • Research findings and practical guidance for decision-makers, stored in a manner that is discoverable and accessible, and where appropriate integrated into end-users’ databases and decision support tools.
  • Enhanced environmental science and research capability amongst researchers, end-users and Indigenous Australians.

 

Themal Research Hubs

The program will be delivered through four thematic research hubs with regional nodes to provide proximity both to systems of study and key research end users.

The four thematic research hubs will conduct applied research within their specific domains and support four cross-cutting missions delivering management options focused on a) Threatened and migratory species and ecological communities, b) Protected places, c) Waste and d) Climate
adaptation.

The ‘Resilient Landscapes’ Hub will deliver:

  • applied research to support management of Australia’s terrestrial and freshwater habitats, including a focus on bushfire recovery, feral animals and invasive species impacts, and accessible science to assist land managers to create and maintain resilient, sustainable and productive landscapes
  • targeted biodiversity and taxonomy products to support efficient system monitoring
  • environmental monitoring systems and decision support tools
  • cross-hub coordination for the ‘threatened and migratory species and ecological communities’ functional mission to support policy development, program management and regulatory processes to protect Australia’s environmental assets in terrestrial, Ramsar and marine
    environments

The ‘Marine and Coastal’ Hub will deliver:

  • applied research to support management of Australia’s marine and coastal environments including estuaries, coast, reefs, shelf and deep-water
  • targeted biodiversity and taxonomy products to support efficient system monitoring
  • environmental monitoring systems and decision support tools
  • cross-hub coordination for the ‘protected place management’ functional mission to support the management of our protected places and heritage including the national park estate and Ramsar sites in both marine and terrestrial environments.

The ‘Sustainable Communities and Waste’ Hub will deliver research that supports:

  • targeted information and management tools to reduce the impact of plastic and other material on the environment
  • applied scenario modelling to support sustainable people-environment interactions in communities including urban heat island impacts and liveability analysis
  • effective and efficient management options for hazardous waste, substances and pollutants throughout their lifecycle to minimise environmental and human health impacts
  • maintained and improved air quality
  • cross-hub coordination for the ‘waste impact management’ functional mission to support decision maker policy development, program management and regulatory processes in both marine and terrestrial environments.

The ‘Climate Systems’ Hub will:

  • maintain our world-class capability in multidisciplinary Earth system science and modelling
  • advance understanding of Australia’s climate variability, extremes and associated drivers, including the fundamental drivers of bushfires, drought and rainfall in the Australian region
  • develop applied decision-making tools and information to inform policy and programs to prepare Australia to manage emerging risks and opportunities
  • cross-hub coordination for the ‘climate adaptation’ functional mission to support climate information to program hubs to drive integrated adaptation research across the program to support evidence-based decision-making and improve Australia’s climate resilience.

 

Funding

For this grant opportunity the program has funding of $149 million (GST exclusive) available to support four research hubs through to June 2027. Funding will be available to hubs from the second half of 2020. The total value of grants awarded may exceed $149 million if Government priorities and resources increase or new priorities are identified.

All hubs are expected to commit and deliver to the program a level of co-investment (cash and in-kind contributions) equivalent to or greater than the amount of program funding they receive. All partner organisations in a hub are expected to contribute resources to the hub. Cash and in-kind resources from participants are treated equally for determining the ‘matching’ co-investment against the program grant.

 

Eligible Projects

Program funding is to be directed primarily to the conduct, collaboration and communication of research. Program funds are intended to be primarily spent in Australia, however international collaboration on projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Funding may be used for:

  • salaries for researchers and support staff, fellowships and student stipends, and direct salary on-costs
  • direct support costs of research
  • indirect support costs of research
  • capital items, such as equipment necessary for conducting research.

Grant funds must only be spent for the purposes of undertaking the activities of the hub as specified in the grant agreement and Activity Work Plan.

You must incur the expenditure on your program activities between the start date and end or completion date for your grant agreement for it to be eligible.

 

Eligible Applicants

Applications are being sought from collaborative, multi-disciplinary and multi-institution/organisation consortia or groups. The consortium must nominate a lead applicant who is solely accountable to the Commonwealth for the delivery of grant activities. The lead applicant must be an Australian research institution (public or private) and an eligible entity as per the list below. Eligible organisations can form a consortium with ineligible organisations.

To be eligible as the lead applicant you must be one of the following entity types:

  • Indigenous Corporation
  • Company
  • Corporate Commonwealth Entity
  • Non-Corporate Commonwealth Entity
  • Non-Corporate Commonwealth Statutory Authority
  • Commonwealth Company
  • Corporate State or Territory Entity
  • Non-corporate State or Territory Entity
  • Non-corporate State or Territory Statutory Authority
  • Local Government
  • Cooperative
  • Incorporated Association
  • Statutory Entity
  • Trustee on behalf of a Trust.

 

Timing

Applications close 30 June 2020.

 

More Information