Our strategy: 2014-2019

IIED's 2014-2019 strategy aimed to contribute to the achievement of change that 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. This strategy was published in 2014, and updated in 2017.

Read IIED's manifesto, launched in 2024

IIED's 2017 strategy update

2017 strategy update

At the halfway point of the 2014-2019 strategy, following the results of an external review, we published a strategy update that was also designed to enable us to begin working towards the next strategy period from 2019.

Our strategic priorities

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

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

  1. Making the Paris Agreement and the SDGs work
    Supporting 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 also worked across our programmes to support effective implementation of the SDGs.
  2. Building resilient and thriving local communities through partnership
    Using our experience of working at multiple scales to build resilience at the local level. This included drawing together our experience with effective approaches for delivering local finance, which was deployed to drive change in global funding mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. 
  3. Bringing local realities and innovation to national and global policy
    Working 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 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 focused on encouraging local control and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. We highlighted the roles of local communities and small-scale producers, and worked to strengthen their capacities. We generated evidence and pushed 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 discourse on the global 'urban transition' addressed the issues of urban poverty and resilience for vulnerable low-income urban residents. We demonstrated how urbanisation can be socially inclusive and environmentally beneficial. 

  • We continued to work with local researchers, activists and practitioners to stress the needs and priorities identified by low-income groups
  • We emphasised the importance of decision making and priority setting by local organisations and local governments, and 
  • We sought to increase 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 worked 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

Through a desire to help make markets more inclusive and sustainable – especially for the poor and marginalised  – we supported informal markets and small enterprises, highlighting their contribution to prosperous societies. We fostered inclusive green prosperity with our work on the green economy, business transformation, fisheries and productive energy use. 

We continued to make the case for natural capital investments, scaling up our programme on payments for ecosystem services and investigated 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 boosted 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 evaluated our own work to see how it contributes to change, and used monitoring and evaluation to generate evidence for effective policies and practice. 

Strategic communication is a key part of the evidence-to-action process that underpins much of IIED's work. We worked to enhance our use of strategic communications to ensure that our policy research delivered 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 continued to reflect on the reviewers' recommendations as we implemented our strategy until 2019, and for the next strategy period that followed.