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Promoting sustainable and inclusive growth in ASEAN


In recent decades, Southeast Asia has achieved high economic growth and significantly reduced poverty levels. However, a wide disparity in income and wealth within and among countries has resulted in uneven development efforts, with rural populations, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups being particularly affected. The region also suffers from the growing impact of climate change, gender-based inequalities and an economy increasingly based on informal employment. These and other challenges are hindering the region’s progress towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

IDRC’s strategic investments are helping local researchers find innovative solutions to regional challenges while also supporting the Plan of Action to implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership (2021–2025).   

Supporting development through research

IDRC-supported research helps foster technological and scientific innovations that contribute to addressing Southeast Asia’s development challenges. The findings generated by our research partners are shared with relevant decision-makers with a view to informing development policies and turning research-backed evidence into tangible action. Currently, IDRC is providing support to a large body of researchers in the region working in various areas of expertise — from climate-smart agriculture to democratic transitions, and from vaccines for freshwater fish to the legal empowerment of marginalized populations.

Promoting sustainable economic growth

The factors propelling Southeast Asia’s rapid growth — digital technology, globalization and market-oriented reform — are also fuelling inequality and marginalization. Uneven access to good jobs remains a critical cause of poverty and young people are having difficulties transitioning from school to work. IDRC-supported research in the region is building an evidence base that shows how creating better job opportunities can go hand in hand with sustainable growth. Research focuses on the most vulnerable, enhancing training opportunities for women and youth, identifying the right frameworks to protect workers and improve their conditions, and pinpointing the components of small business success.

Strengthening climate-resilient food systems

With its fast-growing population, changing consumer preferences and rapid urbanization, Southeast Asia will become increasingly vulnerable to climate change without effective adaptation and mitigation measures. Drawing on our significant experience in this field, IDRC is supporting the region’s adaptation to climate change and investing in transformative work that contributes to equitable, sustainable and diverse food systems. The aim is to build the resilience of communities most vulnerable to climate change and the emerging health threats that arise.

Total IDRC support:

1319 projects | CAD218.3 million since 1971

IDRC support is helping to:

  • Expand research efforts to influence development policies
  • Address the problem of antimicrobial resistance
  • Advance adaptation to climate change
  • Promote inclusive, gender-sensitive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis

Learn more about current IDRC-funded research in ASEAN (pdf, 3.6 MB)