EFFORT – Efficient SDG Fulfillment for Regions in Transition

Om EFFORT på svenska

What is EFFORT?

EFFORT is a cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary development collaboration between Sweden, Uganda and Rwanda, promoting societal and solutions-oriented research and PhD training related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

EFFORT embeds PhD students in public institutions such as municipalities, in projects where sustainable development, high-quality research and local/regional development challenges overlap. EFFORT also strengthens cross-border, regional and international collaboration by the formation of Local Steering Committees.

The SDG-related challenges are first identified by public institutions, and matched with suitable academic research environments. Specific doctoral projects are then formulated to address real societal needs, and transdisciplinary supervisor teams are formed to support the PhD students.

Co-created knowledge and experiences from the research carried out within EFFORT is shared also externally, to disseminate results and scale working solutions through additional international, regional, national and cross-sector collaboration. This also makes EFFORT an effective leadership model for Agenda 2030. Additional global impact is achieved by partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working with UNDP field offices to place sandwich PhD-students in the cross-sections between academia and society in a growing number of countries worldwide.


EFFORT bridges the gap between academia and society. By embedding doctoral students in public organizations, the research is carried out within the public organizations formally responsible for implementing Agenda 2030. It is also in direct contact with end users of research results and innovation.

The purpose of EFFORT is that PhD training and the research carried out should lead to results, methods, solutions and scaling, and consequently more efficient work with sustainable development, in the global South and North.

EFFORT´s vision

EFFORT´s vision is that the SDGs are efficiently fulfilled when academia and practice join forces and work together to deal with real challenges.

 To achieve this, EFFORT is based on a model for PhD training and research with co-creation by participants from the academic, public and private sectors. This also leads to the formation of new local, regional and global networks and strong ties between its partner organizations – e.g. via local steering committees, LSCs (see figure below).

The long-term goal is to contribute to SDG fulfilment through scaling the EFFORT-model by spreading it to other countries through the collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).


Through EFFORT, doctoral projects are co-created, jointly by researchers and practitioners to develop solutions-oriented research and PhD training of the highest societal relevance and academic quality.

Tied to each PhD student is a transdisciplinary team of supervisors composed by two academic supervisors and two mentors representing stakeholders in the participating public institutions (see figure below).

The EFFORT PhD projects become a practical contact point for the EFFORT PhD students, their supervisors and mentors. In that way knowledge and exchange experiences are shared in a growing transdisciplinary international network – the EFFORT Forum.

Within the EFFORT Forum, research issues and problem definitions are continually discussed and re-formulated in an inter- and transdisciplinary process. Local steering committees have been established in each PhD program country, laying the foundation for future national EFFORT centers and international scaling through the UN system.


  • International Science Program (ISP), Uppsala university
  • SWEDESD, Uppsala university (UU)
  • The foundation for collaboration between the Universities in Uppsala, Business and the Public sector (STUNS)
  • Uppsala Municipality (UK)
  • The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
  • University of Rwanda (UR)
  • The City of Kigali, Rwanda (CoK)
  • Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA)
  • Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB)
  • Makerere University, Uganda (MAK)
  • Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda (KCCA)
  • The Inter-University Council of East Africa
  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

EFFORT courses and events

Welcome to take our courses!

See the introductory video with former Deputy Secretary General to the United Nations - Jan Eliasson.

Efficient SDG fulfillment through collaborative learning and the UNDP seven step methodology.  MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Self-paced course developed in collaboration between Uppsala University and the United Nations Development Programme.

Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals: Collaborative Learning and Practical Implementation.  7.5 credits course at Uppsala university, developed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme


Affiliated PhD students

Are you already enrolled as a PhD student, and share our interest in the SDGs and transdisciplinary collaboration? Then you might be eligible to join the EFFORT Forum as an external affiliated PhD student. Please contact us to find out more.

Last modified: 2023-09-28