The WFF Transformative Research Challenge (TRC) aims to inspire research and innovation in sustainable development to end hunger and transform our agrifood systems. Teams of young and young-at-heart researchers are invited to submit a two-page concept note proposing an innovative research idea to help end hunger and transform our agrifood systems. Shortlisted participants receive expert mentorship to help translate their concepts into sound research papers and present them at the WFF global stage each October.
Output examples include:
- a research article for publication;
- a research project proposal for grant funding;
- a paper or presentation at a scientific conference;
- a plan for further development, partnership or scaling to transform a research innovation into a tangible solution.
During the pitches, a panel of expert judges will select the top teams.
Special Prizes with the 2023 WFF Transformative Research Challenge
For the third iteration of the TRC, the WFF is hosting special prizes in collaboration with new partners. We are looking to promote innovative, research-based solutions on topics related to global agrifood systems transformation and to better address current challenges. Each special prize entails a different set of criteria for participation that can be seen below:
- PPR Special Prize
(co-hosted with FAO Peste des Petits Ruminants/PPR GEP Secretariat)
This special prize aims to address the issue of Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), also known as sheep and goat plague. A highly contagious viral disease, it is currently present in nearly 70 countries in the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, Africa and Asia where it causes annual economic losses of up to USD 2.1 billion. The inability of families, communities and institutions to anticipate, absorb, or recover from PPR can compromise national and regional development efforts, and turn back the clock on decades of progress. The goal is to encourage teams of young researchers to propose transformative solutions to combat PPR, as the control and eradication of PPR is possible with the correct resources available. The winners of the PPR special prize will be able to publish their research within FAO, receive up to USD10,000 per team in grant funding and have an exclusive spot on the PPR GEP webpage to bring their research to practice. Learn more about the prize.
- Global One Health
(co-hosted with Wageningen University & Research (WUR), FAO One Health Team (CJWZ))
This special prize, co-hosted by at Wageningen University & Research and at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), focuses on the need for a global approach for the effective and balanced prevention of emerging infectious diseases and responsible crisis management. The goal is to encourage researchers to propose One Health solutions to minimize the risk posed by emerging infections that negatively affect animal, human and environmental health. Ten winners will receive research grants of up to USD 10,000, as well as travel allowance to the WFF flagship event in October 2023. With a One Health approach, agrifood systems will be more resilient and help deliver towards the goal of achieving Zero Hunger for all. Learn more about Global One Health. Learn more about the prize.
- The Role of Water in Agrifood Systems Transformation
(co-hosted with International Water Management Institute (IWMI) MENA Region, Food and Agriculture Youth Institute (FAYI – IAAS))
This special prize seeks to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time: water scarcity. As the largest water user worldwide, the agriculture sector is uniquely positioned to drive the transition towards sustainable water management. The TRC Special Water Prize, co-hosted by the IWMI MENA Region and the FAYI - IAAS, challenges young researchers to propose transformative solutions that ensure the sustainable use and management of water in different agricultural landscapes. The winners will receive travel allowance to the flagship event, internships with IWMI MENA and the opportunity to publish their research through FAO. The goal is to promote innovative solutions that will help address the growing global water crisis, while also contributing to achieving the goal of Zero Hunger for all. Learn more about the prize.
- Food Loss and Waste
Across the globe, approximately 14 percent of the world's food, valued at USD 400 billion, is lost every year from harvest up to, but not including, the retail market (FAO, 2019). At the same time, 17 percent of food is wasted at the retail and consumer levels (UNEP, 2021). Food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills and we lose or waste enough food to feed 1.3 billion hungry people every year. Reducing food loss and waste must be a central part of transforming agrifood systems and global climate solution. This special prize focuses on finding innovative research solutions to reduce food loss throughout the supply chain, between harvest and retail, as well as food waste at consumer levels. The winners will receive visibility at the global WFF flagship event in October 2023, access to WFF and FAO global networks, and the opportunity to publish their research through FAO.
- Food Action Accelerates Climate Action
Currently, agrifood systems account for one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, 90 percent of global deforestation, 70 percent of water use globally, and are the single greatest cause of land biodiversity loss, putting pressure on food value chains. Transforming agrifood systems can significantly accelerate climate action and the achievement of the SDGs. By creating efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agrifood systems we can mitigate and adapt to climate change, preserve biodiversity, and restore ecosystems, while also ensuring food security and better nutrition through healthy diets. This special prize focuses on the WFF 2023 Theme “Agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action”. Using systems thinking, we challenge young researchers to propose innovative research on resilience-building solutions – either local or global – to transform agrifood systems and help mitigate climate shocks. The winners will receive visibility at the global WFF flagship event in October 2023, access to WFF and FAO global network, and the opportunity to publish their research through FAO.
Five reasons to join the WFF Transformative Research Challenge
Shortlisted innovators will be invited to present a lightning talk at the WFF flagship event taking place in October 2023, as well as benefit from the following:
- Mentoring: Twenty shortlisted teams will receive personalized mentorship from globally recognized experts in their field to help “translate” their concept note into a concrete research output (e.g. a research proposal for grant funding or research article for publication).
- Coaching: Each team will be coached in the preparation of the lightning talk for the final presentations.
- Networking: Participants will have access to a global audience of young leaders and organizations from the public and private sectors, including the United Nations.
- Visibility: The WFF will provide a platform for global youth to showcase innovative research ideas and approaches to a global audience. Shortlisted teams will be profiled on the WFF website, and have the chance to pitch their research project to a global audience and international expert panel on the WFF flagship event stage.
- Ongoing promotion: Shortlisted teams and the winner of the TRC may be included in additional learning and exposure activities associated with the WFF, such as a social media campaigns, case studies, and future events to foster ongoing visibility and encourage future development.
05 - Ideas from the 2021 TRC finalists
TRC finalist 2021 - prod 1
Innovative Solution: "The pursuit of sustainable pork production: a metabolic approach"
Team member: Morgan Zumbaugh
Mentor: Mateus Mondin
TRC winner 2021 - Prebio-tech
TRC WINNER 2021
"Prebio-tech: scaling alternative protein with prebiotics"
Team Members: Chian-Wen Chan, Daniel Mahadzir, Mohd Fadzelly Abu Bakar, Nur Hafizah Malik, Aqilah Awg Abdul Rahman
Mentor: Antoine Affokpon
TRC finalist 2021 - nutr 1
Innovative Solution: "Addressing the demand gap for sweet biofortified with low cyanide content cassava varieties for the fresh market segment in Nigeria"
Team Members: Adenike Ige, Ismail Rabbi, Chinedu Nwoko, Ruth Uwugiaren, Moshood Bakare
Mentor: Dimas Rahadian Aji Muhammad
TRC finalist 2021 - nutr 2
Innovative Solution: "Utilizing natural variation to create healthier and more nutritious food"
Team Member: Maria Itria Ibba
Mentor: Hazel Fromm-Tatosian
TRC finalist 2021 - env 1
Innovative Solution: "Development of spatially explicit decision support systems to identify unexploited lands for sustainable cropland expansion responding to future food demands with minimum environmental impacts"
Team members: Elliott Dossou-Yovo, Komlavi Akpoti
Mentor: George Akoko
TRC winner 2021 - Irrigation
TRC WINNER 2021
"Understanding irrigation behavioural change as a result of adopting water saving technologies - a Case Study from Jordan"
Team members: Nafn Amdar, Arif Anwar
Mentor: Atef Swelam
TRC finalist 2021 - life 1
Innovative Solution: "TRANSNUTCARE - nutrition care for transgender community"
Team members: Sara Marques da Costa, Telma Nogueira, Mariana Liñan Pinto, Vitória Dias da Silva
Mentor: Kaat Verplanken
TRC winner 2021 - Eradicate PPR
TRC WINNER 2021
"Eradicate Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in developing countries. Evidence from Senegal"
Team member: Pacem Kotchofa
Mentor: Andrew Mang’ula
05 - 2023 TRC timeline