Many pressing global problems, such as the spread of infectious disease, financial crises, or climate change, are too large for any one country to tackle on its own. These problems affect the well-being, security, and prosperity of all countries, and dealing with them calls for the joint resources and commitment of the world community through multilateral organizations or global initiatives.
Multilateral organizations help set the rules for the governance of the world economy and in areas such as health, agriculture, human rights, peace and security, and humanitarian assistance. They influence the development agenda, set international objectives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), help catalyze funding for humanitarian crises and for global development challenges—for HIV/AIDS, as an example.
Multilateral organizations monitor progress on the ground and play a significant role in countries where bilateral donors cannot engage individually. They provide economies of scale and of scope, making it easier for individual donors, such as Canada, to help many more countries than they could effectively help on their own. They are called 'multilateral' organizations because they are supported by many countries.
Multilateral organizations can be divided into three groups:
CIDA contributes to international development and humanitarian efforts on behalf of Canada by providing financial support to multilateral organizations and helping them shape their policies and programs throughout the world. At the same time, CIDA's multilateral partners are key to helping Canada advance its priority and crosscutting themes.
While DFAIT manages Canada`s political relationship with the United Nations and the regional development banks, and Finance Canada leads with the World Bank, CIDA manages Canada`s day-to-day relations with multilateral organizations on development issues. Health Canada, Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and others are also involved. More than one third of Canada's development assistance is channelled through multilateral organizations.
CIDA's Multilateral and Global Programs support initiatives that strengthen the ability and effectiveness of multilateral organizations to reduce poverty and to meet the MDGs in health, education, food security, equality between women and men, and environmental sustainability. A stable, effective multilateral system not only contributes to achieving these development goals, it also helps create a secure and prosperous environment for Canadians at home and abroad.