Press release

Strong Report Proposes That Knowledge Become the Basis of International Development

November 17, 1996

OTTAWA — A task force of leading Canadian experts headed by Maurice Strong recommends that the Canadian government dedicate, by 1999, 15% of its official development assistance to activities that improve the gathering, use and sharing of knowledge.

This is one of the main recommendations contained in the report prepared by the task force entitled Connecting with the World, which was presented today to Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy.

"This report serves as a wake-up call and reminds us of the stark reality", said Mr. Axworthy. "Knowledge-based economies will dominate the 21st century and Canada will be obliged to earn its way in large part through its intellectual capacity and global leadership."

Through consultation and research, the authors of the report reviewed Canada's role in the fields of research and international development policies. They also examined the strategies that Canada should adopt to maintain its position in global economics and politics and to make its own original contribution to the international community.

"The Task Force's key conclusion is that Canada's place in the world cannot be taken for granted. It will need to earn its position through intellectual and policy leadership and through its strategic advantage as a multidimensional "knowledge broker", explained Maurice Strong. "The Task Force is aware that the development assistance window will not grow in the immediate future. However, if the generation and dissemination of knowledge is to be central to Canada's foreign policy, then some reallocations must occur", he added.

The group recommends that the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the North-South Institute (NSI) and other relevant institutions develop closer ties with the private sector and other donor agencies. The government should match the funds obtained from these other sources. These institutions, in turn, should be allowed flexibility in the way they use these funds and should, for example, be able to use them as venture capital and endowment funds.

"I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the report's authors", said Mr. Axworthy. "I will be taking steps on the highest priority basis to identify the specific actions required for the expeditious implementation of its recommendations, which apply directly to the foreign policy of the Government of Canada."

Connecting with the World was sponsored by three Canadian organizations, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the North-South Institute (NSI).

Chaired by Maurice Strong, Senior Advisor to the President of the World Bank, the group included Senator Jack Austin; Tim Brodhead, President and Chief Executive Officer of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation; Margaret Catley-Carson, President of the Population Council; John Evans, Chairman of the Board, Torstar Corporation; Yves Fortier, former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations; Professor Gerald Helleiner of the Department of Economics, University of Toronto; Pierre-Marc Johnson, former Premier of Quebec and Professor Janice Gross Stein of the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto.

- 30 -

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.