A key part of Canada’s aid program, IDRC supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring change to those who need it most.
Programme areas
1. Agriculture and Environment:
Food, water, and a healthy environment are essential to human well-being. They are also building blocks for more sustainable and equitable development. But these resources are threatened around the world—more so in developing countries. IDRC’s Agriculture and Environment program recognizes that the key to providing these essentials is to increase agricultural productivity and food and water security, while ensuring environmental sustainability. We support research that fosters sound environmental management policies and long-term economic development that benefits local communities.

2. Canadian Partnerships:
The goal of IDRC’s Canadian Partnerships program is simple: to foster innovative approaches to development challenges by linking academic and practitioner communities in Canada and in developing countries. They fund research and related activities carried out by Canadians from across different sectors (universities and non-governmental organizations), often in collaboration with their counterparts in developing countries. They support activities that have the potential to influence policy and practice.

3. Donor Partnerships:
To create healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies, strong partnerships with other donor organizations are essential. IDRC’s Donor Partnerships Division helps develop relationships with research funders and international organizations. Our partner relationships are critical to building knowledge and local capacity to conduct research and innovate in developing countries around the world. We work closely with funders and donors, in collaboration with our program areas. Our mandate is to:
- initiate, build, and help maintain long-term relationships with donors
- help develop proposals, and negotiate agreements and financing
- strengthen our grantees’ financial sustainability by enhancing their ability to form
- partnerships and mobilize resources

4. Evaluation:
Evaluation is integral to IDRC’s work. It forms an important part of the evidence base for understanding how research contributes to solving development problems. IDRC strives to be an accountable learning organization by conducting formal evaluation studies and integrating a culture of “evaluative thinking” into its activities. Evaluative thinking involves:
- being results-oriented, reflective, and questioning
- being able to articulate values
- using evidence to test assumptions

5. Fellowships and Awards:
IDRC’s Fellowships and Awards program supports Canadians, permanent residents of Canada, and citizens of developing countries to acquire more practical and research-oriented knowledge. From graduate students conducting applied research with African farmers to scholars studying environmental issues facing the urban poor, IDRC funding is helping to create a generation of researchers in Canada and in developing countries with enhanced skills, deeper knowledge, a broader world view, and greater experience.

6. Global Health Policy:
Fair access to health and health care is an essential component of a healthy society. IDRC’s Global Health Policy program supports research in low- and middle-income countries that targets the root causes of inequity and poor health and that will inform effective policymaking. We fund research that helps improve health systems so countries and communities can meet the health challenges they face. Global Health Policy’s four programs support research on:
- issues of equity in access to quality primary care
- policies to prevent non-communicable disease
- health concerns shared by five Canadian federal agencies and that supports the global health research community
- a discovery science program that integrates innovation in technical, social, and economic aspects of health Middle East Special Initiatives

7. Science and Innovation:
Science, technology, and innovation (STI) can drive economic growth, help solve social and environmental problems, and reduce poverty. All countries need to develop the capacity to produce and use science and technology themselves, and adapt knowledge to their needs and contexts. Societies also need to understand both the benefits and risks of emerging technologies, such as digital ones, in order to maximize their benefits. IDRC’s Science and Innovation program supports research and capacity building to help developing countries produce, adapt, and use STI for development. Along with gender, key cross-cutting themes within the program are intellectual property rights, science granting councils, and inclusiveness.

8. Social and Economic Policy:
Public policy can help reduce poverty and promote more inclusive growth. But to be effective, policies must be supported by the citizens they are meant to serve. And they must be based on evidence. IDRC’s Social and Economic Policy program works to help developing countries create strong, informed policies and the right environment for change. To do so, we support research focused on:
- building accountable states and empowering citizens
- promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth
- strengthening independent policy research organizations
- support and communicate research findings on issues of immediate policy concern
- support public accountability by helping researchers and policy research institutions to participate in local, national, and international policy debates