GACER was founded by representatives of universities, networks and civil society organizations at CUExpo 2008 in Victoria, B.C., Canada. A global networking meeting, funded by the International Development Research Centre, was held during the conference that saw representatives from 14 countries develop the Declaration of the Global Alliance, which was then endorsed by many of the 600 delegates at the conference.
The main objective of GACER is to "facilitate the sharing of knowledge and information across continents and countries to enable interaction and collaboration to further the application and impact of community-based research for a sustainable just future for the people of the world." Key strategies to move the organization's work forward are:
- Promoting the Declaration of the Global Alliance.
- Building on and strengthening existing organizational and communications structures.
- Creating opportunities for knowledge exchange.
- Creating communications tools and in-person meeting opportunities for engagement.
- Developing program initiatives, activities and events that build capacity for community-engaged research across the globe, particularly amongst emerging practitioners.
- Mapping community-engagement in research and its outcomes.
- Increasing the profile of community-engaged research as a key component of evidence and knowledge-based decision making to address the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the world today.
- Influencing the policy environment amongst governments, international and national institutions and funders to strengthen support for community-engagement in research and policy development.