Annual Report 2011/12: A lifetime of learning

In 2011 IIED turned 40 years old. We are firmly middle aged – a testament both to the formidable moral purpose laid down in our infancy and the flexible way of working cultivated ever since that we remain as relevant today as in 1971.


Cover of annual report publicationOur calling in life came at an early age. It was our founder Barbara Ward who first coined the term ‘sustainable development’ during the early 1970s. Under her visionary guidance, IIED was one of the first organisations to make the crucial connection between people and planet that still drives our work today; and that now also underpins the efforts of thousands of initiatives across the world.

If our mission still echoes the values of our youth, the ways in which we fulfil it reflect a lifetime of learning. We have always sought to work in partnership — with local communities and grassroots organisations, other NGOs, governments, academia, businesses, global institutes and multilateral agencies. But with every piece of work, we and our partners have learnt a little more about what works, where and how, to protect ecosystems and livelihoods.

Forty years of practical engagement from local to global levels inform our distinct mix of participatory research, advocacy and action and equip us to tackle the greatest challenges of today – from climate change and cities to the pressures on natural resources and the forces shaping global markets.