Sustainability ARA Call for Proposals — Fall 2023
About this CFP
Amazon Sustainability works to make Amazon the most environmentally and socially responsible place to buy or sell goods and services. We conduct research to map, model, and measure the end-to-end environmental and social impact of the company and vet sustainability topics that will have the greatest future impact to Amazon to inform business planning and resilience. We develop and test strategies that support revenue growth while reducing negative environmental and social impact. We work with the external science community to drive our mission goals. We accelerate sustainability practices at Amazon by guiding critical decision makers with crisp recommendations backed by scientific rigor. We remove ambiguity around sustainability and provide them scientifically credible concepts, reports, data, and tools that they can use to make informed decisions.
We welcome proposals in the following research tracks:
Machine learning applications for Life Cycle Assessment
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an instrumental method for corporations disclosing their environmental footprint. The primary challenges associated with corporate footprinting are scalability, automation, transparency, and lack of appropriate data to measure impacts of a wide range of products and services. Currently, much of the LCA work remains manual, and requires subject matter expertise. We solicit proposals that primarily focus on machine learning application in life cycle assessment ranging from to automating assessment and validation, completing life cycle inventories using approximation, use of large language models in LCA setting, and building tools to conduct scenario analysis and assess emissions abatement potential at scale.
Supply chain analytics
Much of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a product or service are embodied in their supply chain, referred to as Scope 3 as per the GHG protocol. We solicit proposals that study the global supply chain, publish datasets that shows the dependency across sectors and regions, creates mechanisms for verified reporting of data without leaking proprietary secrets, develops methods to identify the key bottlenecks in abatement of carbon emissions. We solicit methods that assess the downstream impact of large investments in GHG mitigation actions such as use of alternative materials and clean energy electrification. We favor proposals that are domain agnostic and amenable to large scale analytics.
Data-driven sustainable product design and manufacturing
There is a lack of methods, tools, and systems to enable product manufacturers to incorporate sustainability performance metrics into decisions made across the product’s life cycle, from product development to manufacturing to post-use recovery and treatment. We are welcoming research proposals focused on innovative approaches to create, test, and implement decision support capabilities for multiple sustainability criteria (e.g., carbon, waste, and water) to increase the velocity and lower the cost of sustainable product development. Proposals that demonstrate broad applicability across different product sectors, supply chain complexity, and manufacturing types (discrete and continuous) are highly encouraged.
Climate risk assessment
Climate change is expected to increase extreme weather events and bring about large-scale socioeconomic changes. While risks are acknowledged at a global level, there is a lack of methods, datasets, and open-source code to assess risk at a local level. We solicit proposals that will assess risks from extreme weather events such as wildfire, drought, flood, sea-level rise, storms, storm surge, tornadoes, hurricanes, and heat waves. We welcome research proposals in assessing the impact of such events to infrastructure, human health, global supply chain, environment, and resources. Proposals addressing compound and cascading risks are encouraged.
Biodiversity and natural capital is becoming increasingly discussed on the global stage. Despite this push, there is a lack of agreed upon methodology and datasets to complete holistic, site-specific biodiversity assessments at scale in a meaningful way to understand the intersecting dimensions of risk to companies as well as risk to the broader environment and community. We solicit proposals that will assess and establish methodological measurement of risks on biodiversity and ecosystems across different drivers of change such as climate change, pollution, land use change, invasive alien species and zoonoses, exploitation, and the contribution to systemic risks such as ecosystem collapse; as well as the positive drivers of nature protection and restoration. Proposals linked to climate risks and scenario analysis, or consideration of, are encouraged.
The development of advanced biofuels derived from non-food and waste feedstocks, while promising in terms of sustainability and carbon reduction, faces several challenges that need to be addressed for broad commercial implementation. Some of the main challenges include complex biomass composition, energy/chemical intensive conversion processes (lead to high production costs and negative environmental impact), optimization of separation/upgrading techniques for high yields. We invite research proposals focusing on novel production methods for advanced biofuels addressing these technical challenges to provide a viable pathway to commercialization.
Submission period: September 21, 2023 - November 13, 2023 (11:59PM Pacific Time)
Decision letters will be sent out March 2024
Selected Principal Investigators (PIs) may receive the following:
- Unrestricted funds, no more than $50,000 to $100,000 USD on average
- AWS Promotional Credits, up to $40,000 USD
- Training resources, including AWS tutorials and hands-on sessions with Amazon scientists and engineers
Awards are structured as one-year unrestricted gifts. The budget should include a list of expected costs specified in USD, and should not include administrative overhead costs. The final award amount will be determined by the awards panel.
Please refer to the ARA Program rules on the Rules and Eligibility page.
Proposals should be prepared according to the proposal template. In addition, to submit a proposal for this CFP, please also include the following information:
- Please list the open-source tools you plan to contribute to.
- Please list the AWS ML tools you will use.
Sustainability will make the funding decisions based on the potential impact to the research community, and quality of the scientific content.
Expectations from recipients
To the extent deemed reasonable, Award recipients should acknowledge the support from ARA. Award recipients will inform ARA of publications, presentations, code and data releases, blogs/social media posts, and other speaking engagements referencing the results of the supported research or the Award. Award recipients are expected to provide updates and feedback to ARA via surveys or reports on the status of their research. Award recipients will have an opportunity to work with ARA on an informational statement about the awarded project that may be used to generate visibility for their institutions and ARA.