New research investment in the effects of Covid-19 for future crises

Logotyper för Formas och MSB

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas) have come together in a joint initiative during the pandemic to fund projects that can produce knowledge to address future global crises. The projects will share 20 million kronor in funding and will help determine over the next year how to improve Sweden’s crisis preparedness.

Results from the research projects will have a major impact on a wide range of societal actors and on how society can transition in a more sustainable direction. MSB and Formas intend to present the project results and make them available at the end of 2021 or in early 2022. Some of the questions to be answered by the research projects are:

  • Who can be trusted when it comes to managing Covid-19?
  • How should state crisis aid be optimally distributed in order to be effective?
  • What can Covid-19 teach us about protecting already vulnerable groups during a crisis?
  • Can urban green spaces protect against psychological pressures?
  • How do home offices affect municipal waste management?
  • Can a crisis cause a major public system like the transport system to transform?

Researching the ongoing crisis is unique

The projects, which will share 20 million kronor, will determine over the next year how to improve Sweden’s ability to manage future global crises using lessons learned from the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s quite unique to initiate so many research projects during an ongoing crisis. We now get the chance to develop valuable insights that we can already benefit from in our current management of the crisis, as well as increase our resilience when facing completely different crises in the future,” says Sara Brunnberg, head of research at MSB.

“What Sweden is doing now is also attracting international interest,” Brunnberg says. “The research findings will be able to be put to use and make an impact in many other countries.”

“It’s important that we learn from these difficult times we’re going through,” says John Tumpane, head of the department for environmental sciences at Formas.

“For us at Formas, our good collaboration with MSB on this call for proposals has been very fruitful,” Tumpane says. “Together, we’re reaching out more widely in the scientific community and gaining broader perspectives on the research issues being addressed. We need to continue to work together across government agency and sectoral boundaries so that society can achieve a sustainable transformation and recovery.”

More about the projects

The 20 projects will run for a maximum of one year and will either build on previous or ongoing projects or will generate completely original ideas.

The majority of the research projects are in the social sciences and humanities. Among the topics in focus are communication activities and information channels, social sustainability, built environment, climate, food, and civil protection and preparedness during the current pandemic.

The projects will contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda. According to the applications, the research will focus on:

  • SDG 3, Good health and well-being
  • SDG 10, Reduced inequalities
  • SDG 11, Sustainable cities and communities
  • SDG 13, Climate action

Funded projects

Early in the covid-19-pandemic, MSB and Formas planned for a joint call, and in record time the call Societal effects and opportunities for transition after Covid-19 was made.

The call was made within the cooperation of the three national research programmes about climate, sustainable spatial planning and food. The programmes are hosted by Formas and MSB is an engaged part. The call also touches several of MSB's research areas.

103 applications were assessed individually by an international panel with 17 researchers and societal experts. The 35 highest ranked aplications were then discussed in a digital meeting. It was important that the projects should focus on knowledge about how to address future societal crises. The projects that will be funded scored high on both scientific and societal criteria.

Formas, a Swedish research council for Sustainable Development

Sara Jonasson, forskningssekreterare
Phone: +46 (0)8–775 40 63

Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB)

Phone: +46 (0)10-240 44 44 E-mail:
Updated:21 December 2020