ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
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Flex fund


The ACCESS Flex Fund has a total value of £1m and is a core element of the project. It aims to provide funding to test and develop new ways of thinking, new approaches and new networks that will advance the impact of the social sciences to address the transition to a sustainable and biodiverse environment and a net zero society.

Round 1 grants were awarded to 9 projects in July 2023 with each project receiving up to £30K.

Round 2 of the Flex Fund is now open until Friday 26 April 2024, 17:00 BST


We are looking to fund about three projects between £200-240K each.

If you are interested in applying please visit How to apply to the Flex Fund.

You might also want to view our Flex Fund FAQs and the recording of our Flex Fund webinar on 19 February 2024.

Round 1 Flex Fund awards


We are delighted to announce the winners of ACCESS Flex Fund Round 1.  We had over 60 applications from universities and research networks from all over the UK. After a rigorous review, we selected nine projects that all met our key aims around innovation, making the social sciences more visible and having an impact on today’s climate and environment crisis, and which take forward our guiding principles of co-production, sustainability and equality, diversity and inclusion. Projects will share the £250,000 fund and run from September 2023 for 9 to 12 months.

Projects include using social science methods to examine active storytelling to increase children’s sense of agency over environmental crises; using multiple social science disciplines to explore how a rapid transformation of the global fashion and textile system from unsustainable practices to regenerative, post-growth alternatives is possible; and how thinking about a ‘More-Than-Human’ world can help us negotiate conflicts between environmental challenges and human priorities, to ensure sustainable futures for the planet and its inhabitants.

Patrick Devine-Wright, ACCESS Director, said “The nine projects are all very varied and demonstrate how widely social sciences can be applied to different areas of work, but all with a single goal to improve environmental decision making and practice.

We were very impressed with the high calibre of applications. It was great to see some important collaborations between universities and public sector organisations as well as thought given to making projects inclusive and environmentally sustainable.

We are pleased to be funding projects that give more visibility to minority groups in the UK; understanding how British Muslims engage in environmental action and their experience; and funding for engaging Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in designing a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable approach to conservation.

Other successful awardees will be looking at other marginalised communities; water scarcity in rural Scotland, energy demand in racialised communities in cities, and engaging under-privileged groups in nature renewal.”

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Early Career Researchers at the ACCESS Assembly 2023

Birgitta Gatersleben, Co-Director of ACCESS, continues “We were particularly excited to see that over 95% of the applications came from Early Career Researchers.

ACCESS is about giving opportunities to the future generation of social scientists who we hope will go on to work with decision-makers across society to better inform UK policy and practice.

It was great to read about the links they’ve already established with non-academic partners. In most cases, the work will be co-produced; meaning the outputs will be of immediate use and value. Some of these partner stakeholders include government Nature Agencies (e.g., Natural England), the Children’s Environmental Agency, the Citizens Advice Bureau, British Muslim organisations, schools and community leaders.

I’m excited to see more people joining the ACCESS network and recognising the importance of social science expertise and methodology to start to solve some of today’s most pressing environmental issues.”

Useful Insights


Discover what lessons we learned from administering Round 1 of the Flex Fund.

We will be looking to implement some of the recommendations in Round 2. We hope these insights will be useful to other organisations administering funds and also to future Flexible funds applicants. For more information please contact us.

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