International Development Research Centre

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The International Development Research Centre (IDRC; Français: Centre de recherches pour le développement international; CRDI) is a Canadian federal Crown corporation that invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in the developing world.

IDRC was established by the Parliament of Canada in 1970 under The International Development Research Centre Act, which directs IDRC “to initiate, encourage, support and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.”[1]

To fulfill this mandate, IDRC encourages and supports researchers from developing countries to conduct research in their own institutions and regions. In doing so, IDRC supports networking and knowledge sharing between scientific, academic, and development communities in Canada and developing countries.

As part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, IDRC invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve the lives of people in the developing world. IDRC works with the brightest minds in Canada and around the world to solve practical development problems. Collaboration with local research institutions and funding partners not only advances global security and prosperity, but ultimately reduces dependence on aid while building local leadership. Every year, IDRC manages hundreds of research projects with hundreds of institutions and the Centre grants approximately 200 individual awards to nurture a new generation of development leaders.

Research[edit]

IDRC development programs support innovative solutions that improve global access to food, jobs, health, and technologies for growth. The Centre's programs seek answers that drive change — giving the world’s most vulnerable people hope and opportunities for the future.

IDRC’s three program areas promote innovation and deliver large-scale impact:

Agriculture and Environment (including Agriculture and Food Security, Climate Change, and Food, Environment, and Health)

Inclusive Economies (including Employment and Growth, Governance and Justice, the Think Tank Initiative, and Maternal and Child Health)

Technology and Innovation (including Foundations for Innovation and Networked Economies)

IDRC research contributes to Government of Canada foreign policy, a number of development priorities, and the Sustainable Development Goals. This includes participation in the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund and the Innovating for Maternal and Newborn Child Health in Africa program.

IDRC builds on decades of work on gender issues, international relations and global governance, and the role of information and communication technologies in development. It integrates these dimensions into all research themes.

IDRC invests in knowledge and innovation for large-scale positive change. The Centre supports innovators across the developing world to test new ideas and adapt existing knowledge and technology to transform the lives of the poor. For example:

• New research launched in Venezuela and Colombia is scaling up successful interventions to tackle the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a vector that transmits Zika and many other viral diseases such as dengue and chikungunya.

HarassMap, a non-profit network that created crowd-sourcing tools and social campaigns to confront sexual harassment, helped Cairo University adopt an anti-sexual harassment policy — a first for a public university in the Middle East. By testing and promoting harassment-free “safe areas”, HarassMap has helped shift social norms so that bystanders confront and report abuse.

• Job quality, security, and safety haven’t kept pace with booming Asian economies. IDRC is supporting Asian research institutions to identify the elements that will create positive conditions for inclusive growth, with a focus on enhancing training opportunities for women and youth; identifying the right frameworks to protect workers and improve their working conditions; and pinpointing the factors of small business success.

IDRC is building the leaders of today and tomorrow by equipping research, policy, and business innovators with the tools and support they need to address the world’s most pressing development issues. The Centre's investments nurture leaders who are finding lasting solutions to climate change, disease, inequality, food insecurity, and poverty. For example:

• The African Institutes for Mathematical Science’s Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI) is building a critical mass of scientific and technical talent in Africa that will be capable of driving progress across the continent. Since 2003, 973 students from 42 countries have graduated from the Institute — one-third of them women.

Haiti’s 2010 earthquake was catastrophic; an estimated 230,000 people were killed and another 3 million displaced — with many academics and students among them. Now, less than 10% of the country’s professors have a master's degree, and even fewer hold PhDs. Academics from Canada, Haiti, the US, and France established the Institut des sciences, des technologies et des études avancées d’Haïti (ISTEAH) to nurture future university leaders in science and technology. Their long-term goal is to train 1,000 science and technology professionals who will help the country recover and rebuild.

Governance[edit]

IDRC’s work is guided by a Board of Governors composed of up to 14 governors.

The IDRC Act specifies that the majority of Board members, including the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, must be Canadian. The balance of members may be appointed from other countries.

The Chairperson of the Board reports to Parliament through the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.[2]

Board members are appointed by Canada’s Governor in Council for terms of up to four years, and may be appointed for a further term.

Margaret Biggs, who served as President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 2008-2013, is Chairperson.

IDRC President Jean Lebel manages the Centre’s operations with the support of the Senior Management Committee. Previous IDRC presidents were David M. Malone (2008-2013), Maureen O'Neil (1997–2008), Keith Bezanson (1991–1997), Ivan Head, (1978–1991), and David Hopper (1970–1978).

Key board responsibilities

The IDRC Board’s key responsibilities are to:

• Establish the Centre’s strategic direction;

• Review and approve the Centre’s corporate priorities, budget, and financial statements;

• Assess and ensure that systems are in place to manage risks associated with the Centre’s business;

• Ensure the integrity of the Centre’s internal control and management information systems;

• Monitor corporate performance against strategic plans;

• Monitor the performance and succession planning of the President and Chief Executive Officer; and

• Assess its own performance in fulfilling Board responsibilities.

Operations[edit]

IDRC's head office is located in Canada’s national capital, Ottawa, Ontario. In addition, there are four regional offices, located in Kenya, Egypt, India, and Uruguay.[3]

The Nairobi office opened in 1975 and serves the sub-Saharan Africa region.

The Cairo office serves the Middle East and North Africa and was opened in 1975.

The New Delhi office opened in 1983 and serves Asia.

The Montevideo office opened in 1989 and serves Latin America and the Caribbean. Before that, IDRC’s regional office was in Bogota, Colombia; it was in operation from 1973 to 1989.

Partnerships[edit]

In addition to its parliamentary appropriation, IDRC receives funding from a number of domestic and international donors. Government partnerships exist between IDRC and Global Affairs Canada, and the UK Department for International Development, for example.

IDRC also receives contributions from a number of private donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, among others.

IDRC partners strategically with other funders, in Canada and around the world, to leverage and multiply the financial resources available to tackle pressing issues. A number of IDRC projects are carried out in partnership or with researchers at universities and institutions across Canada. For example:

• IDRC leads a consortium of Canadian agencies — including the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Global Affairs Canada — that has committed $7 million over three years to support clinical trials of an experimental Canadian Ebola vaccine.

• Open data for development (OD4D) is an IDRC-administered program that advances locally driven and sustainable open data initiatives — vast volumes of information that can be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone — in developing countries. With nearly $10 million in funding from IDRC, the World Bank, Global Affairs Canada, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), OD4D is unlocking open data to promote social and economic change. Open data enhances government transparency and accountability, fosters greater civic engagement, and can promote economic efficiency — resulting in better services, policies, and opportunities for people in developing countries.

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