Call for proposals for 2023 Capacity Enhancement Support Programme (CESP)

Strengthening the GBIF network through collaborative projects around mentoring, regional training events and digital documentation
DEADLINE: 14 March 2023

CESP 2023 Call for proposals

GBIF invites current GBIF participants (both voting and associate) to submit concept notes for project funding through the Capacity Enhancement Support Programme (CESP), which enables collaboration between GBIF participants to address identified needs at regional and global levels.

Deadline for submitting concept notes through the GBIF Grants Portal: 14 March 2023, 23:59 CET (UTC +1)

This call aligns with the GBIF Capacity Enhancement Framework and focuses on enhancing the long-term capacity of participants to benefit from and contribute to GBIF's mission of providing free and open access to biodiversity data. Project proposals must target specific capacity needs identified by the participants themselves and be aligned with one or more of the activities in the GBIF Work Programme 2023. GBIF encourages all participants to complete a capacity self-assessment to help identify capacity strengths and needs.

Project proposals must be based on one or more of the following three types of action eligible for support:

  1. Mentoring activities: Interactions among two or more GBIF participants where the core objective is the transfer of information, technology, experience and best practices in small groups.

  2. Support for regional events and training workshops: Courses and workshops with a regional (multi-national) component to enhance the capacity of individuals or networks to contribute to and benefit from GBIF.

  3. Documentation: Production of key learning and promotional resources or their adaptation to the national or regional context (e.g., by translation or including local/regional perspectives). The GBIF Secretariat advocates digital-first documentation to provide technical guidance and support training and skills development across GBIF's communities of practice. The key features of this system include standardized documentation, routine updates, versioning, translations, community input, peer review, and searchable format.

The maximum funding request is €20,000 per project.

Application timeline

  • Concept notes must be submitted by 14 March 2023, 23:59 CET (UTC +1) through the GBIF Grants Portal.
  • Invitations to submit full proposals will be sent to selected applicants by mid-May 2023.
  • The outcomes of the final review and selection will be communicated to applicants by end August 2023.
  • Funded projects are expected to start in October 2023 with a project implementation period of maximum 12 months (1 October 2023–30 September 2024). We recommend taking the general calendar of GBIF-related activities into account when planning events.

General recommendations for preparing applications

  • Ensure that your project meets the eligibility criteria and aligns well with the overall objectives for the programme. Consider also the selection criteria mentioned in the application process. These will decide whether you will be invited to submit a full proposal.
  • Be brief. Try to provide the shortest responses possible, keeping essential information within the form. We cannot guarantee that any supplementary information provided as attachments will be reviewed.
  • Ensure completeness of the form and that required attachments are uploaded. Incomplete submissions will not be reviewed.
  • Review the FAQ page. Send any unanswered questions to CESP@gbif.org.
  • Submit on time. The deadlines for submissions are hard deadlines, and projects received late will not be reviewed.

Eligibility criteria

All activities funded under the CESP programme must comply with all the following eligibility criteria.

General eligibility requirements:

  • Concept notes and full proposals must be submitted in English through the GBIF Grants Portal by the stated deadlines.
  • Project proposals must be jointly prepared by all project collaborators (all partners and the applicant).
  • The applicant's institution must be able to sign a grant letter and receive funds in Euros.
  • Applicants must commit cofunding (in-kind or cash) to their projects and provide details of this cofunding in their concept notes and full proposals. Cofunding refers to real costs that are incurred by the applicants while executing the funded project's activities. These could be in-kind contributions that directly contribute to the project activities (like staff salaries, travel costs etc.) or any in-cash contributions to CESP activities from other funding sources. The level of this cofunding will be taken into account when evaluating cost-effectiveness.
  • Activities and deliverables must not be dependent on cofunding from unconfirmed additional grant applications.
  • All data mobilized through the CESP grants, as well as any other products of the projects, such as training material, must be made available under either a CC0 1.0 waiver or CC-BY 4.0 licence.

Eligibility of applicants:

  • Applicants and partners must be in good standing with GBIF (i.e., all parties involved in the project proposal have no overdue or missing reports and/or deliverables from previous projects funded under GBIF-led programmes).
  • Applications must be submitted by a Head of Delegation or a Node Manager, representing a current GBIF Participant (either voting or associate)
  • The applicant, who must be the named primary contact for the project and who is also identified as project lead, will be responsible for the management, implementation and reporting of the grant on behalf of all project partners. We expect that the primary contact is located in the country where the majority of the activities are scheduled to take place. Should this not be the case, a rationale explaining this decision is required in the concept note.
  • Project partners may be representatives of (1) current GBIF Participant nodes, or (2) other institutions from current GBIF participant countries having informed the Node manager of their participation in a project proposal, or (3) institutions from non-GBIF participant countries only if all costs related to their engagement are covered with cofunding.

Eligible use of funds:

  • CESP funding can only be used for expenses relating to current GBIF Participants and the three types of action (mentoring activities, support for regional events and training workshops, and documentation).
  • All CESP funded activities must be not-for-profit. CESP funds may be used to support staff time, travel and costs associated with the organization of meetings and workshops.
  • CESP projects may request funding to cover up to a maximum of 50% of the costs of IT services required for virtual events , up to a maximum of €1,000.
  • Note that CESP funds cannot be used to pay for overheads, which include costs that cannot be directly attributed to the activities of the project, e.g. bank fees, compensation for any exchange rate losses, postal/courier service costs, or reimbursable taxes*. CESP funds also cannot be used to pay for expenses related to the purchase of IT, electronic and laboratory equipment and services, costs related to field work and/or the collection of new field data, or laboratory research to capture new data, or for expenses related to non-GBIF Participants. Such expenses may be included in a project plan if they are covered with alternative sources.
*) Tax is a non-eligible expense if it can be claimed back through national authorities. If this is not possible for your institution, tax becomes an eligible expense.

Eligibility requirements at full proposal stage:

If invited to submit a full proposal:

  • Applicants must prepare a detailed budget
  • Applicants must provide plans to ensure sustainability of activities after project support from CESP concludes.
  • Each named project partner must provide written confirmation in the form of a letter, which includes stating their involvement and specific role in the project as detailed in the proposal (see templates provided). These letters must be submitted through the GBIF Grants Portal.
  • Representatives of all current GBIF Participants who will benefit from the project must complete or update a capacity self-assessment for the GBIF Participant concerned. If selected for funding, this will also form part of the reporting process.
  • Applicants must provide a written confirmation in the form of a letter of their institution's tax status and that their institution is capable and willing to start and 'prefinance' scheduled activities in advance of receiving grant funds. This must be submitted through the GBIF Grants Portal.

About the GBIF Grants Portal

Applicants who do not already have a GBIF Grants Portal account should register and create one as early as possible, as the account verification process can take up to two (2) working days. Any requests/enquiries sent to CESP@gbif.org should be responded to within three (3) working days.

Application process and selection criteria

Applications for CESP grants follow a two-stage process:

Stage 1

Concept notes submitted through the GBIF Grants Portal will be screened to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria and fall within the scope of the programme. Those that pass these tests will be reviewed independently by three reviewers and scored against the following selection criteria:

  • Relevance, urgency and scale of the targeted capacity needs
  • Perceived effectiveness of the partnership and proposal to address the declared needs
  • Expected value of the project's deliverables
  • Likelihood of the project achieving sustainable results
  • Cost-effectiveness (including factors such as the number of GBIF Participants benefiting from the project, matching funds leveraged (cofunding), etc.)
  • Alignment with the current GBIF Implementation Plan and Work Programme

A panel convened by GBIF Secretariat, including external experts, then evaluates the concept notes based on scoring and comments provided by the reviewers, before recommending which applicants should be invited to submit a full proposal. In addition to the guidance provided by the reviewers, this panel may take the following criteria into account in its recommendations:

  • Geographic and thematic balance, to ensure that invited proposals meet broader objectives of facilitating collaboration at regional and global levels
  • Expected benefits to the broader GBIF community
  • A suitable balance of projects that build on the activities of previous grantees and those that bring together new project teams
  • Potential for concept notes with similar objectives, focus and/or overlapping partners to combine into a single submission at full proposal stage

Stage 2

Applicants recommended by the selection panel are invited to submit a full proposal separately through the GBIF Grants Portal. The invitation may be accompanied by recommendations or specific conditions communicated by the selection panel. These may include feedback on the detail of the concept note, recommendations regarding the budget, or suggestions relating to the possible pairing of the project with another submitted concept note. The response to the panel's feedback will be used in the evaluation of the full proposal in addition to the selection criteria listed above.

Full proposals are submitted to the same process as the concept note, i.e., independent review and scoring by three reviewers, and evaluation by the selection panel. As in the first stage, final recommendations for funding may take account of geographic and thematic balance, as well as the balance between experienced and new project teams, to ensure the best overall impact of the annual funding round.