Today, WRI launches its new Strategic Plan for 2014-2017. The plan will provide greater focus to our work, usher our transition to a global organization, and ensure our research is suited for a wired world. Below is a letter from Andrew Steer, WRI’s CEO and President, and Jim Harmon, Chairman of WRI’s Board of Directors. Download the full Strategic Plan in order to find out how we will expand our impact through our approach, “Count It, Change It, Scale It.”
As WRI enters its fourth decade, our mission is as critical as ever. Since its inception in 1982, WRI has built a reputation for delivering impacts of global relevance, based on objective evidence and high-quality analysis—a base from which we can build for greater impact in the future.
Over its first 30 years, under the leadership of its first two presidents, Gus Speth and Jonathan Lash, the Institute made groundbreaking achievements. We created the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which is today the most widely used international standard for measuring emissions; we developed the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a global survey of the state of ecosystems; we helped drive the expansion of bus rapid transit systems from a pilot system in Curitiba in the 1970s to 186 cities today; and we built the Access Initiative, the world’s largest network dedicated to environmental rights and participation, comprising more than 150 organizations in 54 countries.
The world today is very different from when we opened our doors in 1982. Even as the global population has risen by 2.5 billion, poverty rates have halved, driven by a near tripling of global output. Economic power balances have shifted. China’s real economy is today 19 times its size in 1982, while its power consumption is up 14-fold. The sheer speed and scale of change has placed unprecedented pressure on environmental resources. Greenhouse gas emissions have nearly doubled, and every minute forest area the size of fifty soccer fields has been lost.
While the challenges that WRI seeks to address have become ever greater, so too have the opportunities. Information technologies—remote sensing, cloud computing, crowd sourcing, and the communications and social media revolutions—are enabling new ways of identifying , diagnosing, and addressing problems.
WRI has sought to adapt to the changing context. Over the past five years, we have doubled our staff and budget, and opened five new international offices.
In the Strategic Plan we present WRI’s strategy for the coming four years. We will focus our activities on six global problems that must be addressed urgently this decade. We will do fewer projects at greater depth and scale, seeking tipping points and, together with partners, moving beyond them. And we will invest in creating open-source data, research, and visual information that are suited to today’s fast-paced and networked world.
We look forward to working with our partners to tackle today’s urgent challenges and contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous world for all people.