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Research partnership to support advocacy and awareness raising activities towards a Belgian and European policy / private sector / NGO / CSO audience in favour of the promotion of peacebuilding approaches in the Sahel and Great Lakes regions.

  1. Créé par Charline BURTON
  2. Le 06/03/2024
  3. 18192021Dans Services Consultance via site officiel Belgique

Listing details

Organisation : Search for Common Ground
Public markets : oui
Publication date : 06/03/2024
Submission deadline : 18/04/2024
Contact person : Andreas Van Peteghem

Market summary

  1. About Search for Common Ground 

Founded in 1982, Search for Common Ground (Search) is an international non-profit organisation working to end violent conflict and build healthy, safe, and just societies. Using innovative tools, Search seeks to transform the way the world deals with conflict, away from adversarial approaches, towards cooperative solutions. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium and Washington, DC, Search is present in more than 30 countries with over 800 employees worldwide. 

  1. Context

Fragility and violent conflicts risk undermining global efforts to reach the SDGs. Only 20% of fragile and conflict-affected countries are on track to achieve their targets by 2030, with millions of people at risk of being left behind. While conflict and protracted crises are on the rise worldwide and with increased divisions within and between societies, there is an urgent need to invest efforts in conflict prevention and move away from adversarial approaches to solving conflict towards cooperative ones. 

Despite their best intentions, actions of foreign actors in such contexts (governmental, private, non-profit, media, etc.) have the potential to aggravate existing tensions in local communities and contribute to the eruption of violence if local conflict dynamics are not well understood and taken into account in interventions. In order to reduce this potential negative impact and increase their contribution to positive change, it is essential that these actors (re)shape certain policies and practices that consider more centrally the needs and insights of local communities affected by fragility and conflict.

  1. About the project

In light of this context, Search has been awarded funding for an advocacy project in Belgium in the frame of the 2022-2026 DGD programme cycle, titled ‘Promoting Stakeholders in Belgium and Beyond as Champions of Peace and Sustainable Development’. The project aims to shape interventions by policymakers (Belgian, EU, multilateral and international level), the private sector (with HQ in OECD countries) and other development stakeholders (Belgian NGOs/CSOs and international networks) that are conducive to durable peace and sustainable development in FCAS by advocating for policies and practices that:

  • Support and regulate sustainable business practices (that are economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally friendly);
  • Mainstream conflict-sensitivity (the ability to understand the context, how interventions interact with that context, and to act on this understanding to minimise negative impacts and maximise positive impacts on conflicts);
  • Integrate peacebuilding (transforming violent conflict and promoting cooperative solutions). 

While the project aims to promote the approaches mentioned above in general, it also focuses more specifically on the following topics linked to conflict in FCAS:

  • Natural resource extraction;
  • Climate change;
  • Humanitarian-Development-Peace (Triple) Nexus;
  • Digitalisation.

While activities are mainly implemented in Belgium, they focus on insights and best practices from FCAS, with a specific attention on the Sahel and Great Lakes regions. The impact we seek to have on communities affected by fragility and conflict in these regions, is that they can live in peaceful, just, and healthy societies as a result of the project. The project serves to (1) capture their insights and best practices and (2) provide opportunities for people living in these contexts to engage with the project’s target audience.


Summary of the expectations of the providers

4. Objective of the assignment

To support the production of evidence-based advocacy documentation within the project, Search is looking to collaborate with 2 Belgium-based academic / research organisations in order to develop specific research and analysis to supplement our internal research capacities and feed into our advocacy and awareness raising activities. The research would contribute to the outcome of the project with research capacities on the topics involved in the project and support the development of actionable and practical recommendations for Belgian and/or European policymakers, private sector actors or other development stakeholders, as well as contribute to Search’s internal learning activities. Ideally, the collaboration with the academic / research organisation should also serve to increase Search’s impact, expertise, support-base and networks in the Belgian / European (policy) space. 

Research scope and questions of interest: 

For this assignment, the research focus should treat one of the following thematic areas or the intersections between them, with a particular focus on inclusive approaches. The candidates are invited to explore and expand upon the example research questions, and propose alternatives that align with these overarching themes:

  • Theme 1: Peacebuilding impact: E.g., What difference does conflict sensitivity have for the effectiveness of Triple HDP (Humanitarian, Development, Peace) Nexus programming and which recommendations can be drawn for policymakers and for operationalisation of this concept? What is the social return on investment value of peacebuilding? What is the cost-effectiveness value of peacebuilding interventions in comparison to security operations? How do EU/Belgian citizens perceive the role of peacebuilding in addressing conflicts? 
  • Theme 2: Harnessing the efforts of diverse groups for peacebuilding: E.g., How are women’s groups working to enhance human-centred security, and how can policymakers support these efforts? What strategies are young peacebuilders and their allies using to overcome barriers and backlash to youth activism and participation? What could an inclusive, integrated approach on climate security look like, focusing on women and youth inclusion in decision-making? How can Belgian/EU policymakers increase/support space for civil society organisations in fragile contexts? 
  • Theme 3: Conflict, climate change, and natural resources: E.g., What role can mediation play in addressing the complex dynamics between climate change and conflict? What coping mechanisms and adaptive capacities do vulnerable communities develop in response to climate change, particularly focusing on gender dimensions? What are some of the practical solutions for policymakers in Belgium/Europe to mitigate the impact of climate change on conflict in the Sahel/Great Lakes region? What role for the state as a provider of (in)security and what role for other institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa (focus on farmer-herder conflicts)? How can the EU legislation on due diligence and critical raw materials be leveraged to address competition for resources, green transition, and conflict ?
  • Theme 4: Digital peacebuilding: E.g., Which aspects of the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) can be useful to foster the electoral integrity of countries in the Sahel/Great Lakes region? How can collaboration with civil society actors in countries in the Sahel/Great Lakes region be organised to address mis/disinformation linked to the EU's presence? How can emerging technologies, including generative AI, be leveraged to foster social cohesion in the Sahel/Great Lakes region? What opportunities are there for effective multi stakeholder collaboration between the EU and the Sahel on tech regulation? How can legislation focused on tech design contribute to social cohesion in the Sahel?
  • Overall recommendations: Based on the selected research scope/question, what types of strategies and investments are likely to shift dynamics in conflict-affected countries to increase human security? And how can these be supported by Belgian/EU policymakers?  

The research questions / scope outlined above are suggestions that Search feels would have a specific added value to the project’s advocacy activities, but we are open to receiving other proposals as well, which can be refined during the inception phase of the collaboration. 

The research should include the following aspects:

  • Geographical focus on the Great Lakes (Burundi, DRC, Rwanda) and/or Sahel (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) regions;
  • Desk study and literature review, potentially including an analysis of Search’s available project data(sets) related to the research topic, where relevant;
  • A case study in the form of a field research in one or multiple of the countries mentioned above where Search is active;
  • Where possible/relevant include gender and/or youth perspectives;
  • Actionable policy recommendations for Belgian, EU and multilateral policy makers and (where relevant) actionable policy recommendations for OECD private sector and the development community.

After finalisation and validation of the research report, its findings and recommendations, the research organisation will develop at least 2 policy briefs with recommendations which present the key findings and insights from the conducted research in an actionable and practical way for the project’s target audience, possibly in collaboration with Search’s Brussels-based policy team.

Additionally, once the research and policy briefs have been finalised and validated, the research organisation will collaborate / coordinate with Search to (co-)organise a public event aimed at disseminating and promoting the research findings for the target audience of the project. 

5. Key tasks and deliverables

For each lot, the assignment would entail the following key tasks and deliverables:

  • An inception report detailing a proposed methodology, tools, calendar and written data collection tools;
  • Analysis of the data collected and production of a draft research report in English for review by Search staff and partners;
  • Final research report outlining the methodological approach, representation of the collected and analysed data, most relevant research findings and insights and conclusions;
  • Development of minimum 2 public policy briefs with recommendations which present the key findings and insights from the conducted research in an actionable and practical way for the project’s target audience, possibly in collaboration with Search’s Brussels-based policy team;
  • Organisation of event(s) and/or other activities to promote and disseminate the research findings, involving Search’s Brussels-based policy team;

6. Collaboration and reporting lines

The selected candidate organisation will coordinate and collaborate with Search’s Global Affairs and Partnerships Team, Global Programmes Team and Institutional Learning team, as well as any relevant Search country offices.

7. Timeline and budget

Search has not foreseen a strict specific timeline for this assignment. We leave it open to the applying organisations to propose timelines, leaving enough space to ensure quality research and outcome products. However, the research findings and actionable and practical recommendations should be ready for dissemination and included in Search’s advocacy efforts in 2025 (exact timing to be discussed). 

Search is specifically looking for two different research collaborations for this call for proposals and therefore has two opportunities available. Both opportunities cannot go to the same organisation. 

The maximum budget available for each research collaboration is around 90.000 EUR per grant, all costs included and would take the form of a service contract. Contracted organisations will be solely responsible for payment of all applicable taxes and other charges as required by national and/or local law. 

8. Organisational & research team profile

The following organisational / research team characteristics are expected by Search for this assignment :

  • Location: Belgium-based academic / research organisation;
  • Language: able to produce research in English and/or French;
  • Proven track record in developing actionable and practical recommendations for Belgium and/or EU foreign affairs or development/humanitarian/peacebuilding policy;
  • Geographical focus: Proven experience / expertise in conducting research in the Sahel and/or Great Lakes regions; existing network of contacts;
  • Thematic focus: Proven track record in the development and publication of quality research products on one or several of the topics relevant to the project (sustainable business practices, conflict-sensitivity, peacebuilding, the link between conflict and: climate change, natural resource extraction, Humanitarian- Development- Peace Triple Nexus and/or digitalisation);
  • Legitimacy: Well known and respected in Belgium, with access to relevant policymakers and practitioners; not politically affiliated; 
  • Network in the geographical area where the research will be conducted, and with thematic expert peers, as well as within Belgium to be able to convene and connect with the target audience of the project (Belgian / EU policymakers, private sector, NGOs/CSOs);

9. Application process and evaluation criteria

Interested candidate organisations are invited to submit the following documentation through our career portal, Lever, no later than 18 April 2024:

  • Document outlining the profile of the candidate research organisation together with the CV’s of the researchers involved;
  • A technical proposal proposing a methodology for the research assignment together with a financial proposal (including budget breakdown) for the completion of the aforementioned deliverables
  • 3 samples of previous research carried out in the field of conflict or related.

Offers submitted will be reviewed on a rolling basis and selection will be made based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance of the organisational profile and researcher’s CV’s: Preference will be given to applicants with an outstanding proven track record in research relating to the topics and in the contexts mentioned above;
  • Quality, relevance and coherence of the technical proposal;
  • The financial offer will be awarded on the basis of their price competitiveness, but will be weighted according to the relevance and coherence of the technical proposal. 

For any questions regarding this assignment, please contact the following email addresses: