International Institute for Sustainable Development
(1990; Winnipeg Manitoba, Ottawa, New York, Geneva; ~120 staff; )

An independent think tank championing sustainable development solutions to 21st-century problems.  Their goal is a “Better living for all—sustainably.” It conducts research to foster innovation enabling societies to live sustainably.

They state that: “Since it was first articulated in the Brundtland Commission’s Our Common Future report in 1987, sustainable development has never been superseded by a more compelling or universally-acceptable expression of humanity’s shared goals. At its simplest level, any form of development that is not sustainable contains the seeds of its own destruction. For development to be sustainable, it must not only generate wealth: it must also advance social justice, reduce and eventually eliminate poverty, and remain within the limits imposed by ecosystem and resource resilience.”

The list of relevant topics includes adaptive planning, climate change mitigation, environment and peacebuilding, food security, foresight and scenarios, gender, investment, subsidies, sustainable electricity systems, trade, and mining.


  • Economic Law & Policy – Focuses on areas of economic policy-making essential to development
  • Resilience – Works with governments, civil society, communities and businesses to help them manage climate- and conflict-related risks.
  • SDG Knowledge – Provides information and analysis that supports the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 SDGs.
  • Energy – Offers practical guidance to help authorities choose the right system of electricity generation and reduce consumption of fossil-based transport fuels, and to implement international climate change commitments.
  • Water – Experts in large-basin management, and addressing complex nexus issues such as the interactions between watersheds and climate change, or water, energy and food.


HIGHLIGHT: Earth Negotiations Bulletin – Their flagship publication that strives to be a balanced, timely and independent reporting service on United Nations environment and development negotiations.

Leadership:  Jane McDonald (Interim CEO and President)
Budget: $26.3m (2018)