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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are driven by a vision of a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive. Climate change threatens to undermine that vision by affecting every facet of a healthy, inclusive and prosperous life, from the food we eat to the homes we live in, and from where we work to how we manage threats to our health.

IDRC’s innovative programming and collaborative partnerships are responding to the urgent need for action on climate change. Guided by Strategy 2030 and by significant experience, IDRC invests in climate-resilient development research, including in the areas of climate adaptation, resilience, equality and justice, and the transition to a low-carbon future with a focus on gender equity and social inclusion.

Climate Change infographic
Guided by Strategy 2030 and by significant experience, IDRC invests in climate-resilient development research.

Strengthening climate adaptation and resilience

The climate crisis, combined with conflict, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs, have made 2022 a year of unprecedented hunger, according to the World Food Programme. The number of people in the world facing food insecurity has risen from 135 million in 2019 to 345 million today.

A transformation of our current food systems is needed to help address this situation, enhance climate resilience, and achieve the SDGs on reducing hunger and improving nutrition by the year 2030. IDRC contributes to this transformation by scaling innovations to diversify food systems, empower marginalized farmers and livestock keepers, and ensure equitable access to nutritious food.

There is a critical need for collaborative, systems-level, action-oriented research to enable a more climate-resilient future for everyone. Launched in 2021, the Climate Adaptation and Resilience (CLARE) initiative aims to address this gap. CLARE is a Canada-UK partnership to enable socially inclusive and sustainable action to foster resilience to climate change and natural hazards for people across the Global South.

Promoting equality and inclusion

As the world adapts to our 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. Our climate-action programming is characterized by a cross-cutting emphasis on advancing gender equality and inclusion goals.

IDRC supports research to address the gender barriers that hinder women’s access to economic opportunities in a low-carbon world. For example, 12 research teams are exploring promising women-led solutions for green economies, including innovations in agriculture, forestry, land restoration and tourism.

Research in West Africa is testing cleaner technologies and innovations that reduce the burden of unpaid domestic care work and the carbon footprint of households.

IDRC's continued early career support for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics resulted in fellowships for several women climate scientists. See examples of their work in these films.

IDRC programming also builds on lessons learned in legal empowerment research to identify approaches that bring the voices of the most vulnerable, as well as Indigenous and feminist perspectives, to decision-making on climate change. New research on climate justice is identifying ways to include marginalized groups and ground climate action in more solid footing based on inclusion and democratic governance. This research is underway in Bangladesh, Chile and Peru. 

Supporting Southern science 

Data, evidence and innovations are needed from across the world to ensure that all regions have a similar starting point for evidence-based decisions about how to combat climate change. IDRC’s support for Southern research, including in Africa, is enabling local climate solutions, leadership and expertise to help inform national, regional and global action.

Since 2015, IDRC-supported researchers from Africa have contributed scientific expertise and evidence-based information to the African Group of Negotiators, which engages in negotiations at the annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This support has strengthened Southern participation and leadership in international negotiations on climate change action.

IDRC also works on the basis that researchers in lower- and middle-income countries are best placed to decide what evidence is needed to help find solutions for problems in their communities. Through ongoing support of a program at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, IDRC is helping mathematical scientists to contribute to climate change solutions for Africa.

Results and insights

Voices from the Global South

Top image: IDRC/Tom Pilston, Georgina Smith/WRENmedia, Jocelyn Carlin/Panos Pictures, Frederic Noy/Panos Pictures