Strategic thinking

Reflecting on our past…

The close of this year brought us to the end of our 2009–2014 strategy. Over the five-year period, we have focused on four core research areas: natural resources, climate change, human settlements and sustainable markets.

In each area, we have built up respected skills, experience and profile in linking local sustainability with global debates; and an excellent track record in collaborating with partners at the grassroots to build fair and long-term solutions.

Highlights: 2009-2014


  • The Three Rights Holders Group, G3, is formed, bringing together family forest owners, community forestry and tribal and indigenous peoples of the tropical forest to jointly promote sustainable forest management through locally controlled forestry.


  • The Nagoya Protocol on biodiversity includes significant gains for indigenous and local communities on access and benefit sharing.
  • The International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) — an organisation providing world class training on climate change and development — is established in Bangladesh.
  • IIED launches the Shaping Sustainable Markets initiative to explore how market governance mechanisms are designed and how they impact people, the planet and the economy.


  • An independent review of IIED’s Drylands Programme concludes that it successfully built capacity and stimulated mutual learning across African partners to “open pathways to influence policy.”
  • Nepal approves a framework for Local Adaptation Plans for Action with IIED’s input.


  • IIED joins the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network as a regional partner.
  • IIED hosts Fair ideas, a two-day brainstorming event in Rio to share and showcase perspectives and solutions for sustainability
  • The Smallholder innovation for resilience (SIFOR) initiative is launched to work with indigenous farmers in China, Kenya, India and Peru.
  • The Forest and Farm Facility is launched by IIED, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Union for Conservation of Nature to support forest and farm producer groups.


  • The Capacity Building in the Least Developed Countries on Adaptation to Climate Change (CLAAC) programme celebrates a decade of supporting fellows from LDCs adapt to climate change.
  • IIED facilitates national dialogues on green economy in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Zambia.


  • IIED staff contribute to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment — on urban and rural adaptation and on mitigation.

...and planning for our future

Over the next five years, we will invest further in all our core areas, ensuring that our research findings and practical engagement help drive change for the public good. We will also establish four cross-cutting and high-profile change initiatives. Each one focuses on a trend or challenge that we view as a key opportunity for influencing change. Combined, they reflect our new imperative to join up and work together — both within and beyond IIED — to test sustainable development approaches in practice.

“Our long-term strategic engagement with processes and people aims to redress power imbalances, tackle inequalities, and create fairer access to resources and services. This is how we will contribute to change.”

Camilla Toulmin, IIED Director

There is growing demand for development that combines policy, capacity and organisational support to ensure everyone can exercise their rights and fulfil their responsibilities. We will focus on strengthening local voices so that they shape land and natural resource rights, investment treaties and practices.
In 2015, new commitments to sustainable development will succeed the Millennium Development Goals and parties to the UN climate change convention must reach a new agreement with legal force. We will work with partners to ensure that less powerful voices, especially those of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), can influence negotiations to reflect their needs; and then implement decisions and hold more powerful actors to account.
We want to ensure countries move away from the established 'brown' economic model towards greener economies and climate resilience. To work, we must strengthen vulnerable communities across poorer countries, and so we will emphasise the potential of informal economic actors and the assets they need to ensure economies serve them well.
We will explore access and affordability issues and how environmental hazards affect food safety and contribute to over-, under- and malconsumption. We aim to design alternative policy solutions for equitable consumption that build on sustainable food systems.