The North-South Institute



The North-South Institute: The Way Forward


The new Board of Directors is seeking input on proposed elements of a Mission Statement for the North-South Institute moving forward and on how to realize that mission.

The Back-Story

  • The North-South Institute was established in 1976 as Canada’s first independent policy research institution dedicated to international development. Its motto was — and remains — “Research For a Fairer World”.  The NSI pursued this motto by “work[ing] with policymakers and partners around the world to support decision makers in addressing global and domestic development challenges”.
  • NSI ceased operations in late 2014. The legal entity, its bylaws and relevant registrations all remain in place however.
  • Carleton University and its Norman Paterson School of International Affairs took on some of the remaining active projects (along with their earmarked external funding) with the agreement of their funders. They also developed a “Framework of Agreement” with the then-Board of NSI under which they agreed to backstop, including by committing staff time and back office support, an initiative to establish a new Board of Directors that would seek to: identify one or more niches going forward for an independent development research organization in Canada, build consensus around a corresponding mission statement, develop a business plan to deliver on that mission, attract funding and launch a transitional operation.
  • On the basis of the Framework of Agreement, the NSI Board elected an entirely new slate of Directors in February, composed of three senior Carleton officials (Dean, Faculty of Public Affairs, Director of NPSIA and Associate Vice-President of Research and International) plus two independent Directors (one of whom is now Chair of the Board of Directors).

Planned Consultations and Critical Path

  • April to mid-May:
    • bilateral consultations with key Government of Canada officials
  • Mid-May to end-June: Series of broad consultations
    • information sessions with Carleton and University of Ottawa academics
    • Online consultation via NSI website
    • CCIC Annual Forum (May)
    • Canadian Development Economics Study Group/Canadian Economics Association Annual Meetings (May)
    • Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (June)
    • Discussions with selected former Board members and staff
    • Bilateral consultations with other think tanks
    • Open meeting and webinar
  • July – August:
    • Information calls to other former and potential donors/funders
    • Identify/contact potential members of the “Advisory Council”, as per the governance structure under the Framework Agreement
  • September:
    • Consultation results guide draft Mission Statement and Strategic Plan
    • Advisory Council meets to discuss consultation outcomes, and a proposed Mission Statement and Strategic Plan
    • Board approves a Strategic Plan and Implementation Strategy
  • October and beyond:
    • Board leads pitch for resources (human and financial) to potential partners and potential funders

Proposed Elements of a Mission Statement for NSI Moving Forward

  • Research that is relevant to development policy and program decision-making
  • Research that supports policy and program decisions by each of government, civil society and private sector actors in development
  • Research that supports evidence-based public dialogue and media coverage related to development
  • Linkages among Canadian academics, governments, NGOs and broader civil society, private sector and international partners, to define research priorities and to transmit/translate resulting research findings 

Core Questions for a Series of Structured Consultations

  • Proposed Elements: What are your views on the proposed Elements?
  • Research Agenda: Looking out five to ten years, what research gaps should the North-South Institute aim to fill for Canadian development policy and practice?
  • Strategies for Realising the Research Agenda: What are the two or three key activities and target audiences on which NSI should focus?
  • Making it Happen: What organizational model should the NSI adopt to deliver on these objectives?