Independent Research Forum (IRF): supporting change for a sustainable future

Article, 26 June 2017

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an opportunity for countries to transform their development pathways. This level of change is uncharted territory for many countries, and creates new challenges.

The Independent Research Forum (IRF), formed in 2012, brings together the expertise and experience of 10 leading sustainable development research institutes and think tanks to support governments and civil society to overcome these challenges and achieve the ambitious global aims embodied in the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

IRF's global reach

The geographically diverse IRF partnership is united by a common commitment to sustainable development for improved human wellbeing

In addition to IIED, the IRF partners are:

Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI)

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Development Alternatives (DA)

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Rimisp – Latin America Center for Rural Development (Spanish language site)

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

World Resources Institute (WRI) 

IIED and SEI share responsibility for overall IRF coordination.

Accomplishments and future plans

In the period leading up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda by UN member states in 2015, IRF organised a series of well-received informal retreats for senior government negotiators and United Nations officials to create a space to share diverse perspectives and find common ground on complex, potentially divisive issues.

In 2017 and early 2018, IRF will conduct retreats in several regions for senior government officials involved in national processes on the SDGs. The retreats will be carried out under the auspices of the High Level Group of Heads of State for the SDGs, which is led by the prime minister of Sweden. 

Information on the upcoming retreats will be posted here as it becomes available.


Tom Bigg (, head of IIED's Strategy and Learning Group