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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 what food we eat to where we live to how we earn a living.

Guided by Strategy 2030 and by significant experience, IDRC invests in climate-resilient development research, including in the areas of climate adaptation, food systems, equality, 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.

Supporting Southern science 

IDRC 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. IDRC’s support for Southern research is enabling local climate solutions, leadership and expertise to help inform national, regional and global action.

Targeted support to African scholars has contributed to the strongest-ever assessment, in 2022, on how climate change is impacting their continent.

At the 2022 Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate-vulnerable developing countries won a long battle to establish a global fund for loss and damage associated with climate change. As UN discussions continue on how to operationalize this fund, IDRC research partners are investigating what policies and mechanisms are needed within countries to manage this type of irreparable loss and recoverable damage, with an initial focus on Bangladesh, Nepal, Senegal and Vanuatu.

Early career support for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics has resulted in fellowships for several women climate scientists. See examples of their work in these films.

Through ongoing support of a program at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, IDRC is also helping mathematical scientists to contribute to climate change solutions for Africa.

Promoting climate-resilience food systems

The climate crisis, combined with conflict, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs have exacerbated the global hunger and malnutrition crisis. The World Food Programme estimates that more than 345 million people face high levels of food insecurity in 2023 ─ a staggering rise of 200 million people compared to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. 

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.

In Latin America, where Indigenous children suffer chronic malnutrition at twice the rate of non-Indigenous children, IDRC-supported research is catalyzing Indigenous knowledge to build more resilient food systems.

Advancing 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 thrive in more resilient communities. 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 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. Research in Latin America identifies and supports Indigenous peoples’ strategies to shape climate action based on their knowledge and perspectives.

Results and insights

Voices from the Global South

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