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SANDEE’s workshops – building the next generation of researchers in South Asia

SANDEE’s Research and Training (R&T) workshops introduce existing and aspiring researchers to carefully curated professional opportunities, skills, and advancements in the global environmental economics landscape.
Published: 30 Jan, 2024
⏲ 5 minutes Read

SANDEE’s Research and Training (R&T) workshops introduce existing and aspiring researchers to carefully curated professional opportunities, skills, and advancements in the global environmental economics landscape. They are also a trusted pathway to coveted and competitive research grants. Every year, SANDEE launches two calls for research proposals attracting an average of 300 applications per year from across South Asia.

Since 1999, the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) has brought together and built the capacities of over 1,600 young South Asian environmental economists to tackle the climate crisis in the region from within the region, integrating environmental economics perspectives to natural science analyses.

SANDEE what are we today

Enabling science diplomacy

Every June and December, ongoing and aspiring researchers gather for an intensive week of research and training. This is a pivotal part of SANDEE’s two annual research grant cycles, where the R&T workshops serve as a platform for ongoing researchers to present progress and solicit feedback to sharpen their research focus, questions, and output. Simultaneously, new researchers pitch their proposals. Beyond the research focus, the workshops nurture friendships and professional networks that extend beyond borders. SANDEE’s efforts are integral in ICIMOD’s missions to build institutional capacity for regional cooperation and collaboration for the delivery of evidence-based knowledge and insights that enable necessary transitions toward a more sustainable Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH).

The journey to R&T workshops

SANDEE RnT workshop

Aspiring researchers begin their journey with SANDEE with the submission of a research concept note. A technical committee reviews and shortlists concept notes for the development of full proposals. The full proposals are reviewed again, with the committee recommending for them to either be sent for external review or back to the researchers for further improvements. Fully revised proposals are then evaluated and shortlisted for presenting at the R&T workshops. 

The workshop is the second step in the grantee selection process, where mentors, faculty advisors, and peers deliberate upon the proposals, providing in-depth inputs during one-on-one mentoring sessions. This platform goes beyond feedback solely by advisors, supervisors, and technical sector experts. It creates an opportunity for researchers within the cohort to critique each other, building invaluable analytical and engagement skills that inevitably strengthens their professional competencies, and make life-long friendships. Proposals with sound research questions and potential policy impact are recommended for further revision. The SANDEE Secretariat, in consultation with advisors, prepares a list of proposals to be supported for the next two years.

A unique feature of SANDEE is the pairing of each grantee with one of the faculty advisors for technical support and mentorship. Through research grants, training sessions and mentoring, SANDEE enables researchers and university lecturers to conduct rigorous research on local issues, generating homegrown but rigorous evidence based on key regional challenges that support and inform development policies. Learn more about SANDEE in this introductory video.

SANDEE group pic

Keynotes, plenaries, panel discussions by global experts in the environmental economics domain enrich the experience. The recent R&T workshop in December, consisted of progress updates from 14 ongoing grantees and seven new proposal pitches. Other grantees who were unable to attend the workshop in person, interacted with their mentors virtually. The SANDEE-ICIMOD Karl-Göran Mäler Memorial Lecture featured talks from Jampel Dell’Angelo, Associate Professor of Water Governance and Politics, Institute for Environmental Studies, and Soumya Balasubramanya, Senior Economist, World Bank.

The SANDEE experience

SANDEE alumnae, also known as ‘SANDEEites’, play a crucial role in spreading the environmental economics education such as climate challenges in South Asia from various positions of authority – eminent vice-chancellors, deans, department heads, academics and government representatives. A 2022 survey indicates that, of the 250 SANDEE alumnae who responded, 75% are conducting cutting-edge research in South Asia; 60% are leading multisectoral collaborative activities; 50% are teaching environment economics, and 40% are engaged in and impacting environment policies at different scales. Publication of the edited volume, Climate Change and Community Resilience: Insights from South Asia, is an example of lasting collaboration among the SANDEEites. The book has been planned and published during COVID-19 period that demonstrates the resilience of the network, and it has been received well with over 310K access/downloads.

Through the R&T workshops, Summer Schools, specialised training and workshops, and a diverse range of subject matter skills and knowledge sharing, SANDEE's rigorous training programmes impart specialised knowledge and skills in environmental economics applicable to solving real-world environmental and socioeconomic challenges. SANDEEites emphasise how the network was instrumental in fostering collaboration among researchers and policymakers across the region.

“SANDEE has played a crucial role in my career development and capacity building and has provided a platform to interact with researchers from across South Asia. Through SANDEE, I have improved my teaching skills, developed a deeper understanding of environmental and resource economics, and gained valuable insights into the policy landscape in the region.” - Prof Dr Tehmina Mangan, Vice Chancellor of The Begum Nusrat Bhutto Women University Sukkur, Pakistan; Grantee 2008-2010

SANDEEites have consistently emphasised that, along with generating knowledge and evidence to inform policy decisions on critical environmental challenges in the region, SANDEE contributes significantly to sustain a professional network that helps knowledge generation in South Asia.

“Efficient, affordable, and sustainable water supply for all is a key policy issue in India and the global South. SANDEE has been instrumental in presenting the complex dynamics between water supply, health, education, labour, and gender. My SANDEE journey has been profound, combining research funding with incisive mentorship. The process has given me unique conceptual, methodological, and practical insights into the most pressing environmental challenges. The R&T workshops are a great place to network with the professionals across countries, expanding geographical perspectives on topical climate issues." - Rishi Kumar, Associate Professor of Economics, BITS Pilani, India; Grantee 2023-2025

Are you driven to research-pressing questions related to climate change and other challenges at the intersection of economic development and environmental change? Join us as part of our drive to generate evidence-based knowledge and insights to enable necessary transitions to a more sustainable HKH and South Asia! Please keep a look out for the next grant cycle that will be announced in the  second quarter of 2024.


Programme Associate, ICIMOD

Programme Coordinator - SANDEE, ICIMOD

Communication Officer, ICIMOD


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