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WRI's Strategic Plan


The World Resources Institute opened its doors in 1982, with the goal of bringing objective analysis and policy engagement to the pressing global challenges linking economic development, natural resources and the environment. Over the years, WRI has earned a reputation for practical solutions and global impact based on rigorous analysis and deep long-term engagement with governments, corporations, city leaders and communities. 

In today’s turbulent world, WRI is more needed than ever.

While WRI’s mission has remained constant, our way of operating has changed to match the changing world. In the past decade we have internationalized, with offices now in 10 countries, programs in 60 countries and experts from more than 50. We have also become leaders in the use of new technologies and big data, while expanding the “do tank” side of our work to ensure better impact from our traditional “think tank” role. Most of our experts today are actively engaged with decision-makers on the front line. 

While we are proud of our achievements, we know that what we’ve done is not enough. We are deeply aware that incremental change will not deliver the world we want, and neither will pilot successes. We thus expend great effort on the question of scale.  What triggers the move from high quality design and successful demonstration to irreversible widespread adoption? Our last strategic plan (2014 – 2017) explored this in some detail. Our new strategy takes this approach to a deeper level. 

We are aware that while our institution is expert at analysis and policy engagement, scaling is always a team effort. This explains why all our programs are in partnership with others. We are deeply grateful for our rich array of partners, and to our supporters and donors, who make our important work possible. 

Our biggest successes have had three common elements:

  1. Rigorous research and analytical work, based on the best data, presented and communicated clearly for specific groups of decision-makers.
  2. Building coalitions for change, in which WRI adopts an unselfish stance, with others owning the initiative as much as we do.
  3. Sustained political and corporate engagement over several years, with a continuous focus on the opportunity for change at scale.

Over the coming years, we will be guided by seven imperatives that respond to changes in the world and draw upon what we have learned in our previous work.

  1. We will focus on catalyzing the systemic changes required to address urgent global challenges.
  2. We will increase our focus on jobs, health, gender and social equity, and human security.
  3. We will be at the forefront of the data revolution.
  4. We will make the best use of our global network.
  5. We will be disciplined in choosing what we do, creating clear strategies for turning ideas into action.
  6. We will act with more agility, accept more risk and manage it better.
  7. We will equip WRI for the new world in which we operate.

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