International Institute for Environment and Development

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is a London-based policy research centre and think tank.


IIED is one of a small group of not-for-profit organisations which has provided core concepts and methods for thinking about sustainability and social change. It is entirely independent, aiming to " shape a future that ends global poverty and delivers and sustains efficient and equitable management of the world's natural resources" (website, 2006).

IIED is generally acknowledged to be a successful organisation - its ideas are pragmatic and pro-poor, and it has reached the ears of major organisations including the World Bank, the Department for International Development of the UK government, and Scandinavian aid agencies like SIDA and DANIDA. For example a former staff member, Gordon Conway, was partly responsible with Robert Chambers for developing participatory rural appraisal, a suite of largely visual techniques widely used in international and community development to elicit public views and ideas. IIED's Environmental Economics programme helped to develop some of the first 'green accounting' and eco-taxation techniques now used in government and industry, while Richard Sandbrook lobbied some of the world's largest corporations to improve their environmental performance - notably in the mining sector.


Research and advocacy work at IIED is divided between Groups, each with their own individual and shared research portfolios. In 2008, these included:

These groupings have changed somewhat over the last thirty years, reflecting staff changes and the emergence of new environmental and development concerns.


Each Group publishes policy briefings and working papers. The majority of IIED's publications are available to download as pdfs from the IIED website and hard copies of many can be ordered free of charge by residents of non-OECD countries.


IIED was established by the economist Barbara Ward in 1971. From small beginnings, when it was first backed by the industrialist Robert Anderson, Ward and her IIED team carried out research and lobbying work on a range of contemporary environment and development topics, using funds obtained from key donor organisations and occasionally from corporations and foundations. IIED continues to maintain a research and publication programme, and until 1986 it also ran Earthscan Publications, through which many of its books are still published.

Ward died from cancer in 1981, leaving the Institute to continue its mission. Other IIED Directors have been William Clark, Brian Walker, Richard Sandbrook (who also died of cancer in 2005), Nigel Cross, and currently Dr. Camilla Toulmin, an economist and expert on development problems in African drylands.

IIED currently has 80 staff from 16 countries and an annual budget of £9 million. It maintains a smaller office in Edinburgh and formerly had outposts in Dakar (Senegal), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and also Washington DC (USA, until IIED North America merged with World Resources Institute in 1988).


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