Request for Full Proposals - Pillars 1 and 2

Only those who were successful in the LOI stage are invited to submit full proposals

Submission Deadline: September 22, 2017


The Strategic Management Committee (SMC) for the Global Water Futures (GWF) programme, funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), recently concluded its Letter of Intent (LOI) review process and is now inviting the Principal Investigators of selected projects to submit full proposals by September 22, 2017 to develop transformational research projects directed towards Pillar 1 - Diagnosing and Predicting Change in Cold Regions and Pillar 2 - Developing Big Data and Decision Support Systems

The SMC received 36 LOIs for a total funding request of nearly $21 million, and a budget of up to $5 million over 3 years is available for this call. The LOIs were carefully reviewed by the SMC against the criteria outlined in the call for LOIs and consequently 17 LOIs have been invited to submit full proposals (47% success rate).


At least half the world’s population is dependent upon water from ‘cold regions’ where snow, ice and frozen soils drive water availability and quality. Cold regions are severely affected by climate change and human activity, resulting in dramatic rates of warming, changing water availability and unsustainable water use. Canada and much of the world are ill prepared for this unprecedented shift, which has already resulted in intensified floods and droughts, reduced water availability and degraded water quality, costing billions in economic loss and impacting the health of populations. Addressing how to protect communities against these extreme water threats and consequent health risks in the face of climate uncertainty and human-induced global changes is one of the world’s grand challenges. Our response, through GWF, will transform the way communities, government, and industry prepare for and manage water-related risks in an era of unprecedented change.

GWF’s overarching goal is to deliver risk management solutions—informed by leading-edge water science and supported by innovative decision-making tools—to manage water futures in Canada and other cold regions where global warming is changing landscapes, ecosystems, and the water environment.


Any full-time faculty member of one of the 4 partner institutions (University of Saskatchewan, University of Waterloo, McMaster University and Wilfrid Laurier University) or any faculty member who was personally invited to be a participant in the GWF proposal (representing an additional 14 Canadian universities) are eligible to be the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator (Co-I) of Pillars 1-2 projects. Adjunct faculty members with the 4 partner institutions are eligible to be Co-Is on a project. All other researchers can be included in the proposal as nonfunded collaborators. Projects can include investigators from more than one institution, and this is encouraged.

Project Collaborators can be contributors to science, development, outreach and/or user interaction and there are no restrictions on where they are based. Collaborators cannot receive direct or sub-contracted project funds from GWF.


A budget of up to $5 million over 3 years is available for this call and projects can request up to $500K per year. The available funding is mostly for hiring highly qualified personnel and operating expenses with the expectation that major equipment purchases will be met from elsewhere. Please note that no overhead funding is allowed in the budget allocation. The funded projects will formally begin on January 1, 2018.

Full Proposal Process

The following process will be followed by GWF to secure, assess, and approve project/network applications:

  • Step 1: Release a request for proposal (RFP) document having working guidelines and quality criteria for Pillars 1 and 2 (Deadline: March 30, 2017)
  • Step 2: Receive LOI (Deadline: June 16, 2017)
  • Step 3: SMC to review LOI with advice from International Science Advisory Panel
  • Step 4: If required, the SMC to identify similar or complementary projects/networks and combine teams
  • Step 5: Inform successful LOI and invite full proposals (Deadline: July 14, 2017)
  • Step 6: Full proposals due (Deadline: September 22, 2017)
  • Step 7: The full proposals will undergo international peer review for feedback and recommendations to the SMC. (Deadline: October 22, 2017)
  • Step 8: Funded projects will be informed (Deadline: November 13, 2017)

Project Management

An operational management committee comprising all project PIs will meet quarterly. Each successful project must provide an annual progress report. Project progress against proposed 3 deliverables, including knowledge mobilisation and data management, will be reviewed annually by the SMC. A critical evaluation of the funded projects will be conducted towards the end of year 3 and will inform subsequent calls for projects including renewal of projects.

Data Policy

The full proposals must adhere to the GWF data policy and data management plan (details to follow soon in a separate document).

Our policy is that all research data collected with the use of funding through the GWF programme (including CFREF and other funding partners) must be preserved and submitted for archiving in our central data repository within a reasonable period of time. As part of this process, and under the terms and conditions of GWF funding, researchers are expected to:

  • Adhere to national and/or international standards or best practices in data collection and management procedures (e.g. data processing, quality assurance and control, documentation, etc.) where relevant and/or possible;
  • Liaise with the GWF data management core team on a regular basis to ensure prompt submission of high-quality and properly documented datasets to the central repository;
    • The GWF data management core team may impose specific protocols to be followed in some circumstances, where feasible and/or necessary, to ensure compatibility and standardization of various datasets;
  • Report on data management and submission activities as part of regular scientific and progress reports to the GWF Strategic Management Committee or other relevant overseeing body.

As GWF projects are proposed and developed, careful consideration must be given to the data production, needs, and use of these projects, and a detailed data management plan is required for each. Researchers are strongly encouraged to liaise with the data management core team in developing their plans.

Data should be submitted internally to the data management core team and central archive as soon as possible. This team will be able to provide technical assistance and support in various aspects of data processing, quality assurance and control, and archiving. Internal GWF datasets will be safeguarded and will only be released publically with the consent of the data originator or after the embargo period.

(Note: Continuation of funding to individual GWF sub-projects is contingent on provision of data in accordance with the GWF data policy and the data management plans developed from the outset of each project. Any exemptions must be fully justified and approved by the GWF Strategic Management Committee.)

GWF Core Support

GWF will be providing core support teams for the programme as follows (details regarding scope of the core teams is provided “Global Water Futures Core Support Teams document):

  • Knowledge Mobilisation Team – providing advice, guidance and support to facilitate user engagement and communication with research teams (University of Saskatchewan - Patricia Gober and Toddi Steelman; Wilfrid Laurier University - Alison Blay-Palmer; and University of Waterloo – Kevin Boehmer)
  • Computer Science Team – providing advice, guidance and support for software development of improved models, model coupling and Human Computer Interfaces (University of Saskatchewan - Kevin Schneider; and University of Waterloo - Jimmy Lin)
  • Data Management Team – providing timely archiving and delivery of data to users. (University of Saskatchewan - John Pomeroy; McMaster University - Sean Carey; Wilfrid Laurier University - William Quinton; and University of Waterloo - Jimmy Lin)
  • Technical Team – supporting field observatories, observational analysis and key laboratories.
  • Core Modelling Team – developing national capability and frameworks for Hydrological and Water Quality Forecasting, Climate Modelling, Hydrological & Water Quality Modelling and Water Resources Modelling (University of Saskatchewan – Alain Pietroniro and John Pomeroy; University of Waterloo – Phillippe van Cappellen; McMaster University – Sean Carey)

Interaction with and enhancement of these teams is desirable and some support is likely to be available from these teams for agreed collaboration with successful projects. The full strategy documents for these teams should be consulted.

Full Proposal Outline

The format and approximate page limits for sections are as follows:

  • Project Title
  • Name of PI and contact information
  • Names of Eligible Co-Is and their affiliations
  • Names of Collaborators and their affiliations
  • Full Proposal (max. 21 pages; attach pdf)
    • Summary (0.5 page)
    • Scientific Rationale (1 page)
    • Objectives and Methodology (both 3 year and 7 year plans) (8 pages)
    • Project Deliverables and Timelines (total 1 page)
    • Roles of Collaborators and User/Stakeholder Organisations (1 page)
    • Project Management – required for projects having a total budget of more than $500,000 over 3 years (1 page)
    • Data Management Plan (up to 1 page)
    • HQP Training Plan (0.5 page)
    • Knowledge Dissemination Plan (up to 1 page)
    • Budget with Justification (include any cash and in-kind support from users/stakeholders, and defined allocations to co-Is) (up to 4 pages)
    • Linkage to GWF Core Support teams and Pillar 3 projects (1 page)
    • References (1 page)
  • 4-Page CVs of each of the PIs and Co-Is (attach all CVs as one pdf file) – CV. Requirements:
    • Page-1: Name/ Affiliation, Current Job Title, Key Awards, Distinction: A track record of research and outreach success as evidenced by high impact factors, outreach and leadership, Research Funding Track Record;
    • Page-2: A narrative describing up to 5 of the most significant contributions to knowledge;
    • Page-3: The relationship to other grants, including other GWF projects in which the PI/Co-I is involved;
    • Page-4: Key publications including h-index.
  • Where appropriate, please provide 2-Page letters of support from users/stakeholders (attach PDF as one file) including an overview of who the partner is; why they are interested in participating, what they expect to gain through the collaboration; and what they are contributing to the collaboration (cash and/or in-kind contributions).

Full Proposal Evaluation Criteria

The criteria that will be evaluated and their relative weighting are listed here (note that successful projects must meet all criteria to a satisfactory level):

  • Research Rationale - Alignment of the project science needs with GWF vision. 10%
  • Objective, Methodology, Innovation and Deliverables: Clear, innovative and scientificallycredible objectives that strategically support GWF goals, the methodology to achieve these objectives on the timelines and within the budget requested and a list of project deliverables. 40%
  • Project Management and Data Management Plans (including detailed role of coinvestigators and how the project will be managed) 10%
  • Budget Justification, including allocations to co-investigators and expenditure categories by sub-topics. Description of HQP training, specification of user direct and/or in-kind support where appropriate, and use of GWF programme resources. 10%
  • Communications and Contributions: Knowledge Dissemination. 5%
  • Incorporation of SMC feedback from the LOI process. Pass/Fail
  • A track record of research and leadership as evidenced by high impact metrics, such as influential recent key publications, awards, tri-council research funding success and outreach impact. 25%

Submission Process

Please email your application package by September 22, 2017 as one pdf file to Phani Adapa, Director of Operations, Global Water Futures at


GWF Secretariat

Phani Adapa, PhD, PEng

Director of Operations
Global Water Futures Programme
National Hydrology Research Centre
11 Innovation Blvd, Saskatoon, SK S7N 3H5
Phone: 306-966-2271