Ideas. Innovation. Impact.

November 03, 2010
IDRC Communications

A 40% reduction in child mortality in Tanzania. Legal reforms ending the “water war” in Bolivia. Employment and dignity for impoverished women in Morocco. Modern communications linking the people of Mongolia. A smooth transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa.

1980s: Good governance — transitions out of apartheid

When the International Development Research Centre was created in 1970, such dramatic improvements in people’s lives were a distant hope. These are just a few of the countless benefits of applied research.

An innovation in development assistance
IDRC was created at a time when international support for development was flagging. For some years, it had become apparent that the spectacular benefits science and technology were bringing to industrialized countries had not reached the developing world. By 1969, world leaders found development efforts at a turning point and called for new directions. 
IDRC was Canada’s response — the world’s first organization devoted to supporting research activities as defined by those countries. An Act to Establish the International Development Research Centre passed Canada’s Parliament unanimously, and received royal assent on May 13, 1970.
In its first year of operation, IDRC funded 7 research activities in 2 countries. At the end of 2009–2010, we were supporting 1,021 in 97 countries.
1990s: Linking people — modern information and communication technologies.

A history of accomplishment  

 The innovative approach to development assistance that defined IDRC at its outset is still at its heart: a conviction that men and women must control their own social and economic destinies; that researchers in developing count ries must take the lead in producing knowledge for the benefit of their own societies; and that the acquisition and use of knowledge is key to progress.
For 40 years, IDRC, and the grantees we support, have been at the cutting edge of development thinking and practice.
  • IDRC support has helped create a critical mass of skilled personnel who are working to solve development problems at local, national, regional, and global levels.
  • IDRC support for specific research projects has spurred the development of a wide range of innovative, effective, and much needed technologies in the South.
  • Policy research supported by IDRC has influenced the national policies of developing countries in a variety of fields — environment, science and technology, communications, economics, urban development, health, and more.
  • IDRC has helped build new fields of knowledge — ecosystem approaches to human health, agroforestry, urban agriculture, peacebuilding, and information and communication technologies for development, to name a few.
    2000+: Safeguarding our future — adaptation to climate change. 

    IDRC has made a difference in the way research is conducted in the developing world by promoting multidisciplinary, participatory, community-based research. This helps ensure the relevance of research.

The only achievement that really matters, of course, is bettering the lives of ordinary people in developing countries — in improving their health, increasing their incomes, making their governments more accountable. IDRC can rightly claim to have played a large part in achieving such lasting impacts.
Download the PDF : Ideas. Innovation. Impact.