Strategy and learning

Our strategy: 2014-2019

IIED aims to contribute to the achievement of change which benefits poor people and the environment: generating evidence through research, building partnerships to influence policy and practice, and ensuring people living in poverty have a voice at every level. Our current strategy period runs from 2014-2019. In 2017, we updated our strategy.

2017 strategy update

This year we reached the halfway point of our current strategy period and also received the results of an external review of our work; this is a good time to reflect on what we have achieved and what we need to do next. Our strategy update is set out below.

This update also enables us to begin working towards our next strategy period, which starts in 2019.

Our strategic priorities

The signing of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 and the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change mark a fundamental shift in the global development agenda. Development is now recognised as a universal enterprise involving all countries, rich and poor. And sustainability has been placed at the heart of this agenda. 

But many challenges – both old and new – still need to be addressed. From 2017 to 2019, our sights are set on achieving three broad ambitions: 

1 Making the Paris Agreement and the SDGs work
We will support the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement by working with the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group and our networks in the LDCs to promote climate diplomacy, climate action planning and capacity and resilience building. We will also work across our programmes to support effective implementation of the SDGs.

2 Building resilient and thriving local communities through partnership 
We will use our experience of working at multiple scales to build resilience at the local level. This will include drawing together our experience with effective approaches for delivering local finance, which we will deploy to drive change in global funding mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. 

3 Bringing local realities and innovation to national and global policy
We will work to bring the voices and realities of marginalised people into global policy processes, as we did at the global conference on housing and urban development Habitat III in 2016.

Our research goals

IIED has an international reputation for action research on natural resources, human settlements, climate change and sustainable markets. We have updated our strategic goals in each of these areas:

Increased investment in locally controlled land and natural resource use

As the pressure on natural resources and ecosystems increases, we will focus on encouraging local control and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. We will highlight the roles of local communities and small-scale producers, and work to strengthen their capacities. We will generate evidence and push for impact in six areas: 

  • Natural resource investments in low- and middle-income countries
  • Agricultural and food systems
  • Locally controlled forestry
  • Biodiversity
  • Water resources, including a focus in West Africa, and 
  • Chinese aid, trade and investment in African natural resources.

Read more about our work on natural resources.

Cities that work for people and planet

Very little of the current discourse on the global 'urban transition' addresses the issues of urban poverty and resilience for vulnerable low-income urban residents. We will demonstrate how urbanisation can be socially inclusive and environmentally beneficial. 

  • We will continue to work with local researchers, activists and practitioners to stress the needs and priorities identified by low-income groups
  • We will emphasise the importance of decision making and priority setting by local organisations and local governments, and 
  • We will seek increasing recognition of the social and environmental inter-dependencies and relationships between urban centres, rural areas and the global environment. 

Read more about our work on human settlements.

Fair and equitable solutions to climate change

We will work to help deliver the ambition of the Paris Agreement by:

  • Supporting the LDC Group in their climate diplomacy and domestic action, 
  • Improving the governance of risk management and resilience, 
  • Encouraging a decentralised approach to climate funds and investment in local climate-positive enterprise, and 
  • Increasing the capabilities of our Southern partners to develop locally owned climate action plans.

Read more about our work on climate change.

Sustainable markets that work for the many, rather than the few

We want to help make markets more inclusive and sustainable – especially for the poor and marginalised. We will support informal markets and small enterprises, highlighting their contribution to prosperous societies. We will foster inclusive green prosperity with our work the green economy, business transformation, fisheries and productive energy use. 

We will continue to make the case for natural capital investments, scaling up our programme on payments for ecosystem services and investigating how best to devolve development and climate finance to the local level. 

Read more about our work on shaping sustainable markets.

A focus on impact 

We will boost our emphasis on rigorous research and effective monitoring and evaluation, so as to underpin our role as a credible source of advice, advocacy and thought leadership. 

We will ensure that IIED is a learning organisation, with monitoring and evaluation at the heart of our work.

We will evaluate our own work to see how it contributes to change, and use monitoring and evaluation to generate evidence for effective policies and practice. 

Strategic communication is a key part of the evidence-to-action process which underpins much of IIED's work. We will work to enhance our use of strategic communications to ensure that our policy research delivers impact at local, national and global levels.

External review – looking forward

We commission an external review of our work every five years. The latest review was completed in March 2017. It provided a thoughtful and well-grounded analysis of the strategic challenges that lie ahead

We will continue to reflect on the reviewers' recommendations as we implement our strategy for the next two years and formulate our longer-term plans beyond 2019.

IIED's 2017 strategy updateDownload IIED's 2017 strategy update