Event highlights: Reflecting on Canada's role in supporting Southern-driven development

December 5, 2022

As part of PEP's 20th anniversary celebration, key partners came together in Ottawa to reflect on PEP's achievements over the last two decades and recognize Canada's leadership role in supporting the work of Southern researchers.

This year marked PEP's 20th anniversary. The occasion provided us with an opportunity to celebrate our achievements, recognize those who contributed to our success and discuss ways in which we can continue to progress.

On December 5, 2022, more than 40 key contributors from PEP's past and present gathered in Ottawa to celebrate the organization's 20th anniversary. In attendance were PEP founders, former and current board members, mentors, advisors, researchers, and representatives from partner institutions.

This event, hosted by our Executive Director Jane Mariara, was an opportunity to highlight our efforts and plans for the next year and beyond.

For over two decades, PEP has supported Southern researchers' work, enabling them to conduct high-quality research and develop innovative policy solutions that address their countries' national priorities. But, the success of PEP's approach to training and policy engagement couldn't have been achieved without the commitment, dedication and expertise of our partners.

While this event was a celebration of our history and accomplishments, it was also an opportunity to recognize the overall success of Canada's commitment to advancing locally-led development in the Global South. With the support of institutions such as the IDRC and Laval University, PEP has worked with Canadian and local researchers to build capacity and generate vital knowledge on topics ranging from health and education to women's economic participation.

Special guest speakers and panel

In his welcoming remarks, Jean-Yves Duclos, the Honourable Minister of Health of Canada, who helped establish PEP while a professor of economics at Laval University, described his experience with the organization and underscored the need to continue to support underrepresented researchers. He congratulated PEP for its significant contributions, including its emphasis on gender and investment in girls and women.

"Prior to the Canadian feminist agenda, PEP has always been very focused on a feminist agenda toward sustainable and inclusive development across the world, and it was driven by the leadership of the IDRC... When it comes to economic, social and sustainable development, investing in women and girls is absolutely key, including in Canada, but certainly across the world."

Jean-Yves Duclos

As part of the afternoon's program, Erin Tansey, director of IDRC's Sustainable Inclusive Economies program, Sylvain Dessy, professor at Université Laval and Director of the Graduate Programs in Economics, and Awa Sanou, Research Partner for Mastercard Foundation, participated in a panel discussion. During their discussion, they shared their insights on the challenges still facing Southern researchers and what Canada can do to ensure that development in the South is driven by locally generated knowledge. 


Erin Tansey IDRC headshot circle"I now have been at IDRC for 2 years, and have already seen many instances of contributions by PEP, including in our programming on gender equality, and in the research responses to the Covid-19 pandemic." — Erin Tansey

Sylvain Eloi Dessy headshot"We need help funding mobility. Sponsoring local researchers, coaching authors on how to present and partnership will be very much welcome to push this initiative forward to ensure it benefits the entire international community." — Sylvain Dessy

Awa Sanou"There is quite a bit that can be done in the journey to change the role of partnerships in research by primarily working with research institutions like PEP." — Awa Sanou



Developing PEP's next steps

We invited attendees to participate in a floor discussion led by John Cockburn, PEP's Scientific Advisor. The discussion centered on how we can improve and optimize our strategic efforts moving forward.

We received a number of valuable insights and ideas from the participants, many of whom noted PEP's successes in capacity building and developing local partnerships, particularly with researchers and support partners. One of the key takeaways from the discussion was the importance of continued growth, adaptation and innovation in our partnerships with IDRC and other international organizations. Given the significant need and ongoing challenges in our field, this is crucial.

Some of the insightful comments we received during the discussion included:

Randy SpencePEP Founder, President Economic and Social Development Affiliates Ltd. (Canada):

"Many of the ideas from the Micro Impacts for Macro and Adjustment Policies (MIMAP) program came from the people we spoke to. Talking to people is a good way to determine future directions. Identify movements that need support, and assist in developing networks similar to PEP in other areas."


Bruno LarueProfessor, Department of Economics Université Laval:

"With a willing board, editors and contributors, you will be able to produce an excellent journal if you are creative and offer a wide range of topics."


Martha MelesseSenior Program Specialist at Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC):

"What are the ways in which you can transfer knowledge generated to venues? Who sets the priorities? Whose voices are heard during the restructuring that is being called for? By putting aside resources to address these concerns, PEP can gain an edge."


Bernard DecaluwéPEP Founder, Professor, Université Laval Canada

"It would be important to establish partnerships on a permanent basis with local institutions within three years. Consider shifting your focus from individual capacity to institutional capacity–which will then be helpful to young researchers."


Awa SanouMastercard Foundation:

"Decolonization requires learning from Canadian Indigenous communities, humility and an understanding of your limitations. Take the time to listen to what the needs are."


Michelle VeilleuxGlobal Affairs Canada (GAC):

"Communication is key. Social media plays a critical role in influencing big policies."


We would like to thank our colleagues, funders, and key stakeholders for supporting our efforts. Bringing the work of the Global South to the forefront of development has been a driving force behind our mission and this milestone was made possible by the efforts of everyone in our community.

Visit our Facebook page to see more photos from this event. 


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