Astronomy for Development Grants
The OAD is mandated to use astronomy to drive positive developmental change. It is tasked with initiating, supporting, and funding programs that use astronomy as a tool to tackle developmental challenges.
Every year, the OAD coordinates a global call for proposals for projects that aim to use astronomy to promote sustainable development. Since 2013, the office has disbursed IAU grants totalling 628,025 Euros to over 120 projects around the world.
It can be difficult to conceptualise how astronomy, an esoteric and specialised science, can contribute to the very immediate and real challenges facing society today. However, below are some of the ways in which past projects have tried to influence the SDGs.
- Majority of the OAD funded projects have focused on capacity building in education by conducting workshops, schools, trainings etc. targeting especially those communities and regions which are disadvantaged or under-represented. These actions directly impact on SDG #4 Quality Education and SDG #10 Reduced Inequalities. Projects have also used astronomy at school and university level to teach skills in programming, data science, mathematics etc. Examples: Astronomy for Literacy, Madagascar Astronomy Python Workshop, Astrolab, Big Data in Astronomy for Social Innovation, Astronomy for Visually Impaired
- Light pollution is not just a challenge for astronomy but also affects living things. The Dark Skies Rangers program raised awareness of the impact of light pollution and energy efficient lighting (which relates to SDG #7 Affordable and Clean Energy). Example: Dark Skies Outreach to sub-saharan Africa
- Community programs run by an astronomy observatory have encouraged sustainable use of resources such as water and energy. In this case astronomy aims to contribute in some way to SDG #6 Clean Water and Sanitation and SDG #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities. Example: Community Development around Timor Observatory in Indonesia
- Astro-tourism has gained traction in recent years: the idea that astronomical sites (historical & heritage sites, observatories, dark sky reserves etc.) can be systematically promoted as points of interest and work together with the tourism industry to contribute to the local economy. This relates to SDG #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. Examples, Development of Astro Tourism in South West Asia, Astronomy for Himalayan Livelihood Creation
- Astronomy has been used in various contexts to bring people together. Taking it a step further, Astronomy as a tool for diplomacy brings together communities separated by conflict. Example: Columba Hypatia: Astronomy for Peace relates to SDG #16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Every year, the OAD receives a great number of high quality proposals that go beyond its funding capacity. Hence, a list of Recommended Projects is compiled and shared publicly for the benefit of potential funders.
The OAD welcomes applications from everybody around the world wishing to carry out programs and projects on astronomy for development. Read more about the Annual Call for Proposals.