Executive Summary

WRI was created just over 25 years ago with the goal of putting environmental issues on the international agenda. That foresight was informed by an understanding that the very nature of such emerging global issues required time…time to be understood by world leaders; time for the public to become engaged; time for science and technology to respond; time for policies to be changed and adopted; and time for change.

Time now seems an impossible luxury. The relentless demands of a $60 trillion global economy are consuming and degrading ecosystems at an accelerating rate. The pace of global warming is creating a growing risk of catastrophic consequences. The issues on which we work—climate policy, ecosystem services, environmental governance, green markets, and sustainable transport—have moved center stage and into mainstream political, social, and business discourse. But in much of the world, and particularly in the United States, neither focus nor urgency has yet materialized much less catalyzed real changes in policy or behavior.

WRI’s five-year Strategic Plan is a response to this crucial moment.

We recognize the need to be clear and ambitious about our ‘strategic intent’ in order to more effectively pursue our mission. We seek to build on the core strengths cultivated within our institution for over 25 years.

Our mission—“to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations”—remains as vital. Our vision is still global and long term.

Our belief in and commitment to analytical excellence is undiminished. We are passionate about achieving and measuring results. We know from experience that by engaging with partners around ideas, analysis, and information we can create change. We work with organizations in every part of the world, and from every part of society—NGOs, governments, businesses, and academic institutions—whoever can create the change that is needed.

Our impact depends on our credibility, and our credibility is rooted in our independence, our integrity, our pragmatism, and the quality of our work.

This plan also signals changes. Sharpened focus will translate into more rigorous criteria for our work, increased synergies among our program areas, and tighter geographic concentration. Enhanced engagement will mean a more active in-country presence in key emerging countries and greater flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing systems and cultures. An increased emphasis on the tools and culture of communication will expand our reach and understanding.

With the support of our talented and committed staff and Board, we confidently predict that WRI will emerge from this process, by 2012, a stronger and more effective institution.