The International Science Council (ISC) managed or jointly managed three pioneering transdisciplinary sustainability research programs between 2014 and 2022: the Transformations to Sustainability program I and II and the Leading Integrated Research for Agenda 2030 in Africa (LIRA 2030) program. These programs were premised on foundational assumptions: First, the need for a great deal more transdisciplinary, solutions-oriented research and international, North-South and South-South collaboration in sustainability science; second, the social sciences should contribute a more important and leading role in framing research questions and approaches. The programs aimed to provide opportunities for capacity and leadership building in such approaches. A comparative analysis of the design and outcomes of the programs suggests that funding criteria, application and selection processes, capacity-building and advocacy opportunities, monitoring, evaluation and learning approaches, and resourcing are all factors that determine the potential of such research programs to achieve their objectives.
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