Our stories from
this year

Click to view a story, or scroll down, to see how IIED plays a linking and bridging role in each of our core areas of research.

Read more about our work on the IIED website

Human settlements

Building partnerships for urban sanitation

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Sustainable markets

Informal economies in the spotlight

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Natural resources

Bridging China and Africa for sustainable forestry

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Climate change

A centre of excellence

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Building partnerships for urban sanitation

Even the lowest-income urban communities can collaborate with local governments to organise better systems when municipal services have failed them.

Working with local and international partners, we have supported a community-driven effort to build desperately needed water and sanitation facilities in the ‘slums’ of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe. The project forms part of a broader strategy to develop partnerships with local government to address urban poverty through the co-production of basic services and greater tenure security.

“It is only through a participatory process that we can sustainably address gaps in service delivery and housing provision. We stand to achieve more through a collective process which recognises and respects communities as equal partners in development.”

Test Michaels, His Worship the Mayor of Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe

Informal economies in the spotlight

From street food vendors in Cairo to rickshaw drivers in Calcutta to waste pickers in Caracas, informal markets are essential components of economies the world over. They are also where the world’s poorest people live, trade and generate their livelihoods. But informal economies are difficult to measure and are often poorly understood by national and global institutions.

This year, IIED launched an institute-wide research agenda on informal economies, asking whether they are obstacles or accelerators to a green economy.

Bridging China and Africa for sustainable forestry

The rapid growth of Chinese investment in African development impacts both forests and the livelihoods of local communities. Over the past year, IIED has been working on both sides to gather information about key issues and raise awareness of them in both Africa and China.

In March 2013, we launched the China-Africa Forest Governance Learning Platform, bringing 80 Chinese and African forest experts and policymakers together in Beijing to begin identifying challenges and opportunities for joint action.

In February 2014, IIED sponsored five Chinese journalists to go to Kenya and investigate sustainable development issues associated with China's engagement there. Their stories have been published in various Chinese newspapers and online media.

In March 2014, African and foreign forest experts travelled to Shanghai to give feedback on China’s new Guidelines for Overseas Sustainable Forest Products Trade and Investment.

  • Over the past decade African trade with China has risen from US$11 billion to US$166 billion.
  • In 2009, China accounted for 78% of Africa’s timber exports.

“At the China-Africa Platform event I realised how we can work together to get a better grip of the forest sector. When I came back to Mozambique I started to work with some NGOs to organise a meeting of all the Chinese companies to go through laws and guidelines.”

Renato Timana, National Directorate of Land and Forest, Mozambique

A centre of excellence

By sharing knowledge and first-hand experience of climate change adaptation, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) is linking the local to the global.

The centre is a partnership between IIED, the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, and the Independent University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where it is based. Since it opened its doors in 2011, more than 400 people from 40 countries have attended a course. ICCCAD’s alumni include a rich mix of academics, negotiators, government staff, NGO workers and urban planners.

The map shows the countries from which participants have attended ICCCAD’s courses – the darker the colour, the greater the number of participants.

Click on the pins to read testimonies from attendees from those countries who have taken part on an ICCCAD course.