Margaret Biggs

Margaret Biggs

Margaret Biggs is a nonresident senior fellow with the Center for Sustainable Development in the Global Economy and Development program. She is the the former president of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and current chair of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). As CIDA president, she was responsible for overseeing Canada’s international development and humanitarian assistance efforts worldwide. She spearheaded development of Canada’s G-8 Muskoka Initiative on maternal and child health and CIDA’s work related to fragility and conflict, democratic governance, education, and sustainable economic growth. Biggs has represented Canada in numerous international forums including the World Bank’s board of governors and as international executive co-chair for the China Council on International Cooperation on Environment and Development.

She previously served as deputy secretary to the cabinet for priorities and planning in the Privy Council Office (Canada) and has extensive senior-level experience in foreign policy and global affairs and domestic policy related to social development, labor market and skills development, and intergovernmental relations.

Biggs is the Matthews fellow in global public policy at Queen’s University and was the 2019-2020 Massey College-Graham Centre visiting fellow in foreign and defense policy at the University of Toronto. In addition to chairing the IDRC board of governors, she is vice chair of the Canadian Partnership on Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH), past chair of World University Service of Canada (WUSC), and on the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Biggs is also a member of the advisory council for FinDev Canada, Canada’s development finance institution, which supports the growth and sustainability of businesses in developing markets.

Biggs is an active speaker and adviser on issues related to Canada’s engagement in global sustainable development, democracy support, trade and development, and global education.  She co-authored with John McArthur “A Canadian North Star: Crafting an Advanced Economy Approach to the Sustainable Development Goals” (Brookings Institution), authored “Inclusive Trade, Inclusive Development: Opportunities for Canadian Leadership” (Institute for Research in Public Policy), and co-founded and co-led the Study Group on Global Education’s report “Equipping the Next Generation of Canadians to Succeed in a Complex World.”  She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University.

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Research for Development
    • Social Policy
  • Current Positions

    • Chairperson, International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
    • Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy, Queen’s University
    • Vice Chair, Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health
    • Past Chair, World University Service of Canada
    • Member, Advisory Council, FinDev Canada
    • Board Member, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
    • Board Member, McCall MacBain Foundation
  • Past Positions

    • Past Chair, World University Service of Canada
    • President, Canadian International Development Agency
    • Deputy Secretary, Privy Council Office (Canada), Plans
    • Assistant Secretary, Privy Council Office (Canada) Priorities and Planning
    • Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
    • Alternate Governor (Canada), Board of Governors, World Bank
    • Massey College-Graham Centre Visiting Scholar in Foreign and Defense Policy, University of Toronto
    • Chair, International Advisory Committee, UNU Institute on Water, Environment and Health
    • International Executive Co-Chair, China Council on International Cooperation on Environment and Development
  • Education

    • B.A., Honours, University of British Columbia
    • M.A. in International Affairs, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University
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