Together with its partners, IDRC is pursuing an ambitious plan to help make the world more sustainable and inclusive.
IDRC investments across the Global South in 2022-23
This year’s Annual Report highlights the power of partnerships to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. Partnerships play a critical role in maximizing IDRC’s investments in research for development. They are one of the pillars of IDRC’s Strategy 2030, which focuses on mobilizing alliances to achieve the greatest impact. In the face of intensifying uncertainties resulting from a global poly-crisis characterized by conflict, population displacements, food insecurity, governance instability, climate disasters and other challenges, the importance of collaboration in identifying sustainable and inclusive solutions has never been greater.
The report zeros in on how IDRC and its partners are addressing the growing urgency of climate change. The impacts of climate change are vast, complex and intensifying, and they intersect with and affect many areas of international development. It is critical that global actors come together to address, adapt and respond to this global challenge. IDRC is working collaboratively across sectors, borders and communities to develop innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions to a climate crisis that is displacing millions of people, exacerbating inequalities and restricting economic development. As the world adapts to the changing climate and transitions to low-carbon economies, research focused on equality and inclusion helps ensure that everyone will have access to tools and strategies to make their communities more resilient.
As reflected in the examples below, elements of sustainability have been embedded across IDRC’s five programming areas, reflecting the critical need for research that responds to the growing climate crisis. Investments in IDRC’s programming advance not only Strategy 2030, but also progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Integrating sustainability considerations into the Centre’s broad research program reflects IDRC’s belief that addressing the climate crisis is essential in building a more sustainable and inclusive world.
Inclusion is central to the Centre’s work in climate action and all programming. High-quality development research must be inclusive and consider gender and other forms of inequalities. Collaborative work with partners across the Global South addresses the intersectionality of gender inequality with other types of inequality, including those connected to social class, sexual identity and religion.
The uptake and use of research on climate adaptation is an important tenet of IDRC’s work. In collaboration with research and funding partners, the Centre brings to the world stage climate-related evidence generated by researchers in the Global South. Together with its partners, IDRC builds and reinforces connections between and among researchers and knowledge users so that research outcomes are accessible, can be put to practical use and are shared widely.
Cutting across IDRC’s research investments and knowledge-sharing ambitions is the importance of partnerships — how IDRC grows funding partnerships to expand research opportunities, enhances relationships with the private sector to extend the reach of research, and expands connections through global networks.
As such, IDRC is leveraging financial resources and expertise through co-funding and parallel funding arrangements with a range of like-minded actors, including bilateral aid funders, philanthropic foundations, emerging development research funders in the Global South and private sector actors. These partnerships seek to maximize the impact of development research, take many forms and possess a shared vision and commitment to systemic change, innovation and knowledge sharing. Collaborative investments — both new and longstanding — advance research in the areas of climate adaptation, resilience, equality and justice, and the transition to a low-carbon future. A focus on gender equity and social inclusion is infused across these investments.
Together with its partners, the Centre supports research and builds capacity to generate stronger public policies, equip vulnerable populations to adapt to the effects of climate change, expand learning opportunities and improve health and livelihoods. IDRC’s global research partnerships also deliver important benefits for Canadians. The Centre’s strong relationships with strategic partners and the evidence generated from co-developed research initiatives help Canada become more agile in responding to global challenges.
The focus of this year’s Annual Report on partnerships reflects the Centre’s commitment to mobilize alliances that place research and evidence-based solutions at the core of global development.
Action-focused research is crucial to effective, inclusive and sustainable climate adaptation, particularly to protect the most vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change. We will ensure women’s voices shape these conversations, and women’s leadership and expertise are championed to deliver gender-sensitive adaptation solutions […] The Climate Adaptation and Resilience research program will improve the effectiveness of adaptation, putting people at the heart of climate research to build the resilience of those living on the frontline of the climate crisis.
Mobilizing alliances for climate solutions
IDRC’s innovative partnerships bring together global actors to pool resources and abilities in responding to the urgent need for action on climate change across a wide array of programming areas. These examples shine a light on how research is helping communities to address and mitigate climate change impacts, while also building resilience. Through a combination of established and new collaborations, IDRC and its partners are, together, achieving greater impact in tackling the vast and complex challenges of climate change than would be possible independently.
Partnering for socially inclusive and sustainable climate action
IDRC has a long history of working on climate research with the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). Building on more than 27 years of collaboration on climate adaptation research, IDRC and FCDO launched the Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) initiative to enable a more climate-resilient future. One of the largest climate-action research programs in the world, CLARE has been deliberately designed to allow other research funders to join, given the complexity of the challenges it is tackling.
With climate change increasingly and disproportionately affecting the world’s most vulnerable, especially women, girls and marginalized communities, there is a critical need for research that supports a more climate-resilient future for everyone. This includes scaling up research and innovation efforts to provide better information on risks, better decision-making tools, and better adaptation solutions to enable transformational change.
Co-funded and co-designed by FCDO and IDRC, CLARE supports socially inclusive and sustainable action to build resilience and reduce susceptibility to risks from climate change and natural hazards for the most vulnerable. FCDO is committed to reducing poverty and tackling global challenges with international partners like IDRC.
CLARE’s transdisciplinary design focuses on three research areas:
- improving understanding of the risks associated with climate and natural hazards by addressing gaps in knowledge;
- informing action to reduce the humanitarian impacts of weather, climate variability and related natural hazards; and
- informing action for future climate challenges.
Joining forces for healthy food systems in Africa
A partnership co-funded by IDRC and the Rockefeller Foundation, Catalyzing Change for Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems (CCHeFS) builds on over a decade of experience from both organizations in improving food systems. Combining the unique strengths and capacities of each partner accelerates progress towards common goals in food security and addressing nutrition concerns.
Our food systems are failing to protect and promote human health and the health of our planet, and the most vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected. Through this partnership with IDRC, we aim to build and leverage research to build healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems and increase demand and consumption of protective diets in […] Africa.
Africa is undergoing a nutrition transition. Traditional diets composed of minimally processed foods are shifting towards low-quality diets laden with sugary and highly processed foods. The production of unhealthy and processed foods creates significant pressure on natural ecosystems because it typically employs exploitative and unsustainable land-use practices. This causes a vicious cycle between climate change and unhealthy foods that exacerbates social and economic inequities. Already vulnerable populations, including women and children, are disproportionately affected by the health and environmental burdens stemming from inadequate and inequitable global food systems.
CCHeFS research strengthens the understanding and implementation of policies and interventions that can enhance the market competitiveness of nutritious and sustainable foods, improving health and quality of life for low-income and vulnerable populations. By promoting interdisciplinary and intersectional research and leveraging in-country expertise across Africa, CCHeFS supports research teams to generate the evidence needed for populations to transition to healthier and more sustainable diets. CCHeFS builds coalitions for change across a range of actors including researchers, policymakers, practitioners, the private sector and civil society.
Southern research, global benefits
The International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh is an organization committed to mobilizing knowledge from the Global South for benefits around the world. Situated on the front lines of climate change, ICCCAD is a valued partner helping advance the Centre’s work to support and share research from the Global South.
The decision at COP27 in Egypt in November 2022 to establish a funding mechanism to address losses and damages from human-induced climate change means that all countries, especially the most vulnerable developing countries, need to strengthen their capacities to address these climate change impacts. The STRENGTH program […] will be working with partners in Bangladesh, Nepal, Vanuatu and Senegal to help those countries be better prepared to tackle the impacts of human-induced climate change.
Loss and damage are emerging as an area of urgent concern with many countries around the world experiencing new and intensifying climate impacts, many of which they are ill-equipped to handle. Bangladesh already suffers serious river floods, tropical cyclones, flash floods and water shortages. Strengthening loss and damage response capacity in the Global South (STRENGTH), funded by IDRC and implemented by ICCCAD, will increase the capacity of researchers and policymakers to respond to disasters associated with climate change extremes and climate-related slow-onset events. The three-year initiative was launched in 2022 at COP27 in Egypt. It supports the development of national policies and mechanisms in the Global South to address irreparable losses (such as land submerged by rising seas) and recoverable damages (such as damaged buildings or roads). There is also a risk that many important facets of losses and damages will be missed, such as how slow-onset events are causing loss of culture and human health, or how the loss of plant and animal species will jeopardize rural women’s livelihoods. This project will make a timely contribution to the loss and damage field and position IDRC as a critical knowledge partner for climate-vulnerable countries in the Global South.
Leveraging resources to improve food and nutrition security
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is modelled after IDRC, so it is no surprise that the two organizations are closely aligned in supporting research for development. IDRC was the model for the organization when Sir John Crawford, one of the architects of ACIAR, submitted his recommendation to Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in 1981 to establish a centre for international agricultural development. Since 2013, that alignment has meant success for ACIAR-IDRC partnership projects, including Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF).
Soon completing a second phase after 10 years, CultiAF leverages the respective strengths and resources of IDRC and ACIAR and emphasizes the commitment of both organizations to fund research aimed at improving gender equality and social inclusion. The strategic alliance focuses on improving food and nutrition security by funding applied research that develops and scales up sustainable, climate-resilient and gender-responsive innovations for smallholder producers.
In addition to financial resources, the initiative draws upon IDRC’s and ACIAR’s respective networks in the region to build relevancy, visibility and adoption of the research.
The IDRC-ACIAR collaboration also supports a new One Health research program that promotes an integrated approach to ensuring the health of humans, animals and the environment across six countries in East and Southeast Asia.
Deploying private capital to drive systemic change in the care economy
The Soros Economic Development Fund — the impact investment arm of the Open Society Foundations — harnesses the power of private capital to pursue rights-respecting, justice-enhancing systemic change. The fund invests debt and equity capital to catalyze change. It prioritizes a range of themes, including access to medicines, climate justice, the care economy, independent media and racial justice.
IDRC is partnering with the Soros Economic Development Fund on a parallel funding initiative to generate knowledge and evidence to increase investments in enterprises that offer care and domestic work solutions. Launched in November 2021, the Transforming the Care Economy through Impact Investing (TCEII) initiative generates knowledge and evidence to direct investment into these social and for-profit enterprises.
The care economy — including childcare, eldercare and domestic work — is vital to society, yet it remains invisible, undervalued and unevenly distributed. The disproportionate share of care and domestic work that falls on women and girls, especially when it is unpaid, is a key barrier to their empowerment. This initiative supports action research to leverage entrepreneurship to grow sustainable and inclusive economic opportunities in the care economy in emerging markets. Research is conducted through local market analysis and case studies, impact assessments, incubating and accelerating care economy businesses, research on regulatory frameworks and policies, and industry-policy dialogues.
Some businesses supported through TCEII operate at the intersection of care and climate, such as Tierra Grata, a for-profit social enterprise that develops and implements energy, water and sanitation solutions for rural villages in Colombia. In addition to providing products like solar panels, portable solar lamps, drip water filters and ecological dry toilets that are fast and easy to install, Tierra Grata also helps customers learn to repair and maintain the installed products. Tierra Grata has served 12,500 customers in 48 rural villages across Colombia, focusing mainly on vulnerable Afro-Colombian and Indigenous populations.
Canada-Netherlands partnership supports locally led adaptation
A new and innovative partnership between Canada and the Netherlands, a country that is a green energy global leader, was announced in November 2022 during COP27.
The Step Change initiative will accelerate equitable and inclusive locally led adaptation to climate change in the Global South. This new initiative scales the impact of a previous Canada-Netherlands partnership by increasing support to the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).
Co-funded by IDRC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Step Change rises to the global call for an all-of-society response to adaptation that catalyzes locally led action, harnesses the power of nature and ensures adequate and equitable adaptation financing.
As a Southern-led network, CDKN is uniquely positioned to provide added value in the knowledge brokering space on the juncture of science, policy, practice and innovation to accelerate equitable and inclusive locally led adaptation. Our renewed partnership with IDRC builds on and scales out the success of previous years and is designed to strengthen the resilience of the most climate affected people.
With the urgency of adapting to climate change mounting, this partnership is helping to fill the need to produce a critical mass of Southern organizations that can mobilize locally led adaptation solutions and to better connect those who produce evidence with those who can put it into action.
Funded for five years (2022–2027), Step Change will support the integration of gender and social inclusion in climate policies and practice, strengthen the implementation of eco-system-based adaptation, advance access to equitable adaptation finance, and strengthen capacity for locally led adaptation.
Through support from the Step Change initiative, CDKN will build on 12 years of work to advance inclusive climate-resilient development by scaling up its work in Africa and continuing its investments in Latin America and South Asia
Partners in advancing sustainability and inclusivity
Beyond these select climate-focused partnership examples, IDRC pursues impact-focused partnerships that address the full spectrum of development challenges that are essential to a more sustainable and inclusive world. The Centre works with a variety of partners — such as Global Affairs Canada, the Global Partnership for Education, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, South Africa’s National Research Foundation, the German Research Foundation and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation — on innovative partnerships that enhance inclusive governance, close education gaps, support COVID-19 recovery, improve gender equality and build prosperity that leaves no one behind in support of Strategy 2030 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For more information on these and other initiatives, please visit our Partnerships page.
Nurturing partnerships for greater impact across programs
Meeting the challenge of climate change calls for a global response that mobilizes research partners everywhere. Pooling efforts to address the growing climate crisis and other development challenges means multiplying resources, increasing impact and strengthening local capacity.
For more than 50 years, IDRC has actively developed and nurtured partnerships and alliances that help drive innovation and build knowledge in the Global South. Partnerships are a pillar of Strategy 2030, helping the Centre produce and share evidence to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.
The Centre’s significant experience ensures a strong foundation for partnerships with bilateral aid funders, philanthropic foundations, emerging research-for-development funders in the Global South and private sector actors around common objectives that align with Strategy 2030 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
IDRC can and will do more. The Centre is broadening its growing partnership base and brokering new relationships. The goal is to be a partner of choice, working with organizations from a variety of sectors to improve lives and livelihoods.
Growing private sector collaboration will continue to be a priority. IDRC will increasingly engage with private sector partners to mobilize research and innovate to address pressing global challenges, including the transition to a low-carbon economy. IDRC will build the evidence base that supports a private sector'triple win'agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, foster economic growth and promote gender equality and inclusion.
Looking ahead, Strategy 2030’s vision for a more sustainable and inclusive world will continue to drive IDRC’s approach to innovative programming and collaborative partnerships. The Centre’s programming and partnerships will respond to the urgent need for action on climate change and gender equality — fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals — and work to achieve climate-resilient development that is just and inclusive.
At the three-year point of Strategy 2030, the Centre is deepening its work to address the disastrous impacts of climate change and persistent inequalities. Enhancing the partnerships program is fundamental to IDRC’s success. Building alliances will leverage past work and extend the reach and impact of IDRC-supported research.
While many of these partnerships will focus on mitigating the impacts of climate change and strengthening prevention, the Centre is actively exploring how other areas of programming can contribute to solutions. This includes leveraging work that promotes sustainable and inclusive economies, recognizing that there is currently insufficient evidence to inform how economies should be changing to address the climate crisis through more sustainable growth.
In the years ahead, IDRC will continue to pursue partnerships that generate greater impact and scale, disseminate new knowledge and increase the visibility and credibility of collaborative approaches to research for development. The Centre will leverage its resources and experience and those of partners to answer the pressing challenges of today and help build a more sustainable and inclusive world.
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Management’s Discussion and Analysis and Financial statements
This Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) provides a narrative discussion of the financial results and operational changes for the financial year ended 31 March 2023. This discussion should be read alongside the Financial statements starting on page 33, which were prepared in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards. All monetary amounts are presented in Canadian dollars unless otherwise specified.