What are equitable partnerships?

In recent years, there has been an increase in international partnerships between researchers in the Global North and Global South. In order for this research to be impactful, and to effectively address global challenges, it is important that these partnerships are equitable. Whilst there is no agreed universal definition for equitable partnerships, equitable partnerships are frequently defined as:

Partnerships in which there is mutual participation, mutual trust and respect, mutual benefit and equal value placed on each partners contribution at all stages of the research process.  

Why are we working on this? 

We believe that funders have a key role to play in ensuring research partnerships are equitable. Many in our membership, and in the broader research funding community have started to take steps towards supporting greater equity in research partnerships. However, there is still a need to identify remaining barriers to and enablers of equitable research partnerships.  

Whilst there are a significant amount of resources which exist on equitable partnerships, there is comparatively little which specifically focuses on the role of research funders. Given to the reach of UKCDR across a range of global funders, and our previous work on equitable partnerships, UKCDR is well placed to fill this gap and contribute to support funders to consider and implement practices to promote equitable research partnerships. 

What have we achieved? 

2017 –  We produced a report highlighting 10 ways funders could make North-South partnerships more equitable.

2019 –  We co-hosted the 2019 International Development Research Funders Forum (IRDFF) in partnership with the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) to further understand how to support funders to move from principles to practice in ensuring equitable partnerships. 

2021 – We launched an Equitable Partnerships Resource Hub, in partnership with ESSENCE on Health, featuring over 30 tools, guides, reports and other resources on equitable research partnerships for development.

What are we doing now? 

Following on from the IRDFF2019, we established an international cross-funder task force to work towards concerted action to accelerate progress on embedding good funder practice in equitable through the project ‘Navigating barriers to equitable partnerships – moving from principles to practice’.  

The project aims to develop guidance and case studies which identify barriers, enablers and recommendations to support good funder practice in ensuring equitable research partnerships.