Find out more about the eligibility criteria and assessment criteria for receiving funded advice.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for funding advice, the request must:

  • be led by at least one of the nine specified regional councils that are able to apply for advice grants
  • be seeking scientific or technical advice relating to environmental management
  • not be a routine task that a council would perform as part of its statutory role and/or as part of normal business management.

Please note: 
A research organisation may only offer to provide Envirolink funded advice if it is capable of providing that advice and if the request fits within the criteria. MSI reserves the right to modify these criteria and to reject or seek modification on requests for advice under Envirolink.

Assessment criteria

Regional council requests for advice under Part B of Envirolink are assessed against two “anchor point” criteria. MSI uses a seven point scale for assessment (one is poor, four is suitable for funding and seven is outstanding).

The two anchor point criteria and the assessment scale they are judged against are outlined below. (please note, only assessment scale scores of two, four and six are outlined in detail.) Each criterion is scored before an overall assessment is made.

Criterion 1: Environmental benefits

The advice requested should contribute to enhanced environmental management by the council, or it may assist the council to help others to improve their environmental management.

The following questions should be addressed by applicants:

  • If good advice is received and used effectively, how will the environment benefit?
  • When might that benefit come about? Will it be durable? How big will the benefit be? (For example, it might affect decision making for all future aquaculture developments in Southland.)
  • Will the advice stimulate a positive change in how your council operates?
  • MSI has a list of targeted environmental outcomes. If relevant, show how the request contributes to one of these targeted outcomes.
Score Anchor Point Descriptor
2 A score of two means the advice request will not be considered for funding as there are serious problems in parts of the request. One or more of the following situations is apparent:
  • Weak presentation and problem identification: The link between the advice request and the intended environmental outcome has not been explained adequately. There is little evidence the advice is needed.
  • Nature and value of the request: The benefits of the advice are deemed by the assessors to be unachievable, trivial, of only a temporary nature, or of minimal importance, even at the local scale. The return from the investment is considered to be low.
  • Scope and scale: The likely benefits fall mainly outside the scope of Envirolink (eg, the request is primarily about economic or social outcomes, or financial benefit to an agency offshore, private business or individual). The scope of the problem is such that the advice sought will make little, or no, inroad into providing a solution within the timeframe indicated. The benefits are therefore unachievable.
4 The request and desired benefits are competently defined. It is clear from the case presented that the advice is needed. The link between the advice sought and the environmental benefits is clear and convincing. The environmental benefits and/or likely improvements to environmental management are realistic. 
The benefits and outcomes identified are considered important on, at least, a local level. The advice, once successfully applied, is likely to make a valuable and durable contribution to the desired environmental benefits (ie, application of the advice will cause more than a temporary change). The advice gained is likely to contribute to the achievement of benefits within the timeframe indicated. The investment is considered to be worthwhile. 
Based on this criterion alone, a score of four indicates the proposal is fundable.
6 The advice sought, and its links to creation of environmental benefit, are well defined, backed up by convincing evidence and realistic. The problem definition, solution and outcomes are well aligned. The applicants are asking for highly appropriate advice for a highly relevant question or issue. 
There is strong evidence that the requested advice will enhance environmental management and outcomes in critical areas. The advice sought is considered critical to environmental management by the applicant council(s), or stakeholders that councils are able to influence. 
There will be substantial positive changes to environmental management activities in one or more councils and to environmental outcomes once the advice is applied. 
It offers an outstanding balance of probable return to at least one council for the risks and level of investment involved. The potential return for New Zealand as a whole is also notable.


Criterion 2: Implementation pathway

MSI wants applicants to consider how the new information will be used to influence change and achieve the outcomes discussed under criterion 1. We need to see a plausible route or pathway in which the RS&T advice will be used or passed on to others for use (eg, in a new or modified council process, guideline, strategy, protocol or plan). Applicants need to explain and justify their choice of pathway. 
We suggest applicants address the following:

  • What happens next with the advice? And what will it influence?
  • What might it lead onto?
  • Who will take it up?
  • Will you be training others as a result of receiving the advice?
  • Have those future users made any commitment to using the advice, and are they fully aware of its nature?
  • Is there any budgetary commitment relating to use of this advice?
Score Anchor Point Descriptor
2 There are serious problems in some key respects; it appears that no-one has taken ownership or responsibility for action. There is no plan, or only a vague plan, on how the advice will be used and by whom. The pathway suggested has some obvious flaws. For example; a crucial step in a chain of communication is absent; important relationships are not addressed; the initiatives proposed are considered to be inadequate (eg, too limited, unrealistic, targeted at the wrong people, or unconvincing in terms of likely effectiveness). The proposed pathways to implementation are unlikely to lead to the desired environmental benefits. Based on this criterion alone, the proposed research would not be considered for funding.
4 Request for advice includes a sound and convincing plan for how the advice will be used. Relevant initiatives have been proposed and built into the request for advice. Responsibilities and opportunities have been identified. There is also evidence of meaningful engagement with other councils in preparing the request and in implementation plans (if relevant).All necessary relationships are in place, or if some are absent or weak these problems are being addressed in a realistic manner. Constraints have been recognised.This score would indicate that the proposed research is clearly fundable.
6 The plan and specific initiatives are highly appropriate to the council’s situation. Responsibilities and opportunities are clear. Engagement with other councils has been built into the request and it will significantly boost implementation prospects. There are highly relevant and perhaps novel ways of using the advice to reach the desired benefits. The plans are ambitious and challenging, but also highly likely to be successful. The approach might be said to be “spot on” and “excellent”.The assessors are highly confident the advice will be implemented successfully given the funds available.