World Resource Institute

Our Global Network in Action

Our Global Network in Action

In the past decade, we have established international offices in China, India, Brazil, Europe, Indonesia, Mexico and Africa, and programmatic offices in Istanbul, Kinshasa and London.

International office directors select areas of focus from among the global challenges based on national conditions and availability of funds. With offices in all big emerging markets, Europe and the U.S., WRI’s global network spans more than two-thirds of the world’s population and GDP. In the coming five years, WRI’s global network will mature from a build-out phase, with offices at different stages of development, into a high-performing global organization equipped to achieve impact at scale.

“More and more we know that what’s good for the environment is good for human development. That’s why many leading businesses are incorporating sustainability in their growth strategies.”
—Jamshyd Godrej Chairman & Managing Director, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd.; Board Member, WRI; Chair, WRI India


In Africa, poverty is widespread—three of five children go hungry, and most people lack electricity. Yet Africa is home to three of the world’s five fastest growing economies, and the region’s population is on course to double by 2050. Because Africa is urbanizing rapidly and most countries are in the early stages of industrialization, the region can quickly improve livelihoods while avoiding costly mistakes made elsewhere.

Drawing on WRI’s global knowledge base, hands-on experience in other emerging economies and existing work in Africa on forests and cities, we will deepen and expand our engagement in sub- Saharan Africa. We will shift from freestanding projects to strategic, sustained partnerships with governments, Pan-African institutions, and multilateral and bilateral donors. Recognizing Africa’s size, complexity and entrenched development challenges, we will focus on three issues:

  • Forests. With more than 30 staff members located across Africa and over a decade of experience, WRI will support African countries, civil society organizations and companies to manage tropical forests in the Congo Basin and to develop and implement land-use planning frameworks that advance development needs while restoring forest and agricultural landscapes.

  • Cities. WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities will engage with national policy makers, mayors, regional bodies and others so that Africa’s emerging cities do not lock in a high-carbon footprint while locking out opportunities for poor people. WRI data, analysis and advice will support Africans’ efforts to build cities that are green, resilient, inclusive and livable job centers.

  • Water. Climate change, population growth and rising demands from agriculture, energy, manufacturing and cities are straining Africa’s water supplies. WRI’s Aqueduct team will develop detailed water risk maps, co-created with local jurisdictions and think tanks, to enable African decision makers to understand and manage the growing risk of water becoming a choke point on Africa’s growth and development.

Located in Addis Ababa, WRI’s regional hub for Africa represents WRI on the continent. The office provides strategic oversight, cross-cutting expertise, financial management and risk mitigation, and conducts fundraising, outreach and communications activities.


The largest country in Latin America and the sixth most populous country in the world, Brazil is a global leader undergoing a tumultuous transition. The worst recession in the country’s history and political uncertainty threaten hard-won development gains and environmental protections. In these uncertain times, WRI Brasil offers an informed, independent perspective showing how environmentally sound policies can reduce poverty and restore growth.

In the coming five years, WRI Brasil will work with national and state governments, cities, companies and civil society in three areas that hold the key to prosperity for millions of Brazilians:

  • Forests. We will work to improve livelihoods, boost economic growth and reduce pressure on Brazil’s remaining intact forests by accelerating the restoration of degraded lands with native species.

  • Cities. We will partner with the National Front of Mayors and others, offering analytical tools and practical experience to make cities more compact, connected and coordinated to provide a better quality of life to all residents, especially poor people.

  • Climate. We will work with thought leaders and decision makers in cities, civil society groups and the private sector to help implement existing climate policies and accelerate low-carbon development.

Established in 2013 with an initial focus on sustainable transport, WRI Brasil had 65 staff as of 2018, with offices in São Paulo and Porto Alegre.

“These are challenging times. But I’m very optimistic that we can respond with solutions that will protect and restore Brazil’s natural resources, enhance quality of life in our cities and improve people’s lives.”
—Rachel Biderman, Director, WRI Brasil


China has entered a new stage in its remarkable development journey marked by commitment to an “ecological civilization”—a new society that fully incorporates sustainability principles. Economic growth has moderated to 7 percent per year, after three decades of averaging double-digit expansion. Rising concern about pollution and the U.S. retreat from climate leadership have strengthened China’s commitment to be a global leader in low-carbon, inclusive development.

To support China in these goals, WRI China will focus on four areas:

  • Cities. We will help improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen road safety in 10–20 cities, helping to pilot new models of urban mobility.

  • Water. We will map and model water risks through Aqueduct to help improve national- and provincial-level planning, in part by overlaying water risk with power generation, agricultural production and other drivers of water consumption. We will help pilot waste- to-energy projects in 20 Chinese cities.

  • Climate. We will help Chinese cities and provinces adopt early emissions-peaking targets, ahead of the national target of 2030. We will also assist one or two Chinese provinces in identifying low-carbon policies and investments that support their economic development and transition plans.

  • Energy. We will support large electricity buyers seeking clean energy options, provide analysis of distributed clean energy models and share international experience in overcoming barriers to rapid clean energy deployment, to help five to 10 cities double the share of renewables in their energy mix.

WRI’s first international office, WRI China has a decade of experience. In 2018 there were 36 staff based in Beijing. The office works closely with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and other Chinese government entities on issues that include maximizing the co-benefits of air pollution control and climate action.

“China’s leaders have made the development of an ecological civilization one of their top priorities. WRI China will draw upon knowledge from across our global network to support this grand vision.”
—Lailai Li, Director, WRI China


A global leader on sustainable development, Europe will play a crucial role in determining whether the world reaches positive tipping points. Public- and private-sector leaders in Europe are among the most innovative, forward-looking actors on sustainable development. We seek to learn from them and to help share the lessons of European experience globally.

European governments and companies are valued WRI partners, offering innovative ideas and delivery platforms to advance shared goals. The governments of Demark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden provide generous flexible institutional support that enables us to innovate and increase our impact. In addition, governments in Europe, including Germany, Norway and the UK, are our largest source of dedicated program support.

Over the past five years, WRI has developed deep partnerships and joint programs with European countries across a range of important issues including cities, food, forests, green finance, the New Climate Economy and the NDC Partnership. Moving forward, we will also launch programs with European partners on resource scarcity and security, the circular economy and the world’s Ocean. WRI Europe will lead an Institute-wide push to deepen collaboration with existing partners while engaging additional governments, companies, EU institutions, research institutes and the media, focusing on issues where Europe is a leader.

For example, on climate issues we will support European leadership in multilateral settings and work with the NDC Partnership—the brainchild of ambitious European and developing country governments—to accelerate implementation of Paris Agreement commitments. We will also provide research, analysis and online tools to measure, monitor and mitigate water scarcity that may destabilize societies, with a focus on Africa and the Middle East.

Europe is a pioneer in recognizing that the take-make-waste business model is unsustainable. We will work with European partners to identify and promote new business models, such as sustainable consumption and production, that enhance competitiveness, eliminate waste and minimize other environmental footprints.

Established in 2014, WRI Europe serves as a regional hub and representational office. In the next five years, we will expand our presence and impact in Europe with additional staff in The Hague. We opened a satellite office in London in 2018.


India is on the move. Since the current ruling party won a parliamentary majority in 2014, forming the first non-coalition government in 30 years, political stability has supported increased economic growth. India’s newly muscular foreign policy includes international commitments that signal a desire to pursue an aggressive policy on climate change and sustainability.

WRI India’s strategy supports India’s development goals and international commitments in four areas:

  • Cities. We will help cities develop an integrated planning approach and make sustainable infrastructure choices in land use, mobility and energy. We will focus on national programs and policies; engage deeply in Bengaluru, a pacesetter city; and work with eight to 10 additional cities.

  • Forests. We will adapt WRI’s global restoration guidance, tools and maps for India; build a pipeline of investment-ready restoration projects; and conduct training to improve landscape planning capabilities.

  • Energy. We will support the uptake of clean energy among large buyers, such as companies and industrial estates, improve energy productivity through residential and building efficiency programs, and seek new ways to improve energy access for poor people.

  • Climate. We will support government and the private sector in designing and implementing low-carbon, climate-resilient pathways; developing proof-of-concept projects; and providing data and analysis on greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts.

In 2017 WRI celebrated its 10th anniversary of working in India, work that began with a focus on sustainable cities and transportation. In 2018 WRI India had 85 staff in Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi.


The world’s fourth most populous country and Southeast Asia’s biggest democracy, Indonesia is rich in natural resources. Yet one of 10 people live below the national poverty line of just $25 a month. Joko Widodo, the first president from a working- class background, is focused on economic development and poverty reduction.

WRI Indonesia supports national goals by showing how sound environmental practice can reduce poverty and boost growth. In the coming five years, WRI Indonesia will build upon a foundation of work on forest-related issues, expanding to energy, cities and climate in response to demand for further WRI engagement.

  • Forests. Drawing on the Global Forest Watch platform, we will work with the government, companies and civil society to protect forests and improve land governance. Examples include working with local authorities to advance the Indonesian government’s national One Map initiative to create commonly accepted maps to reduce land disputes and conflict, ensuring restoration of degraded landscapes and carbon-rich peatlands, and helping to stop illegal logging and land-clearing fires that hurt livelihoods, health and the environment.

  • Energy. We will work with the government on providing data and geospatial platforms to support Indonesia’s goals of 100 percent electrification and quadrupling the share of renewables in the energy mix to 23 percent by 2025.

  • Cities. We will draw on WRI’s global expertise to help make Indonesia’s rapidly growing cities more compact, connected and coordinated so that they become safer, more prosperous and more resilient to climate change.

  • Climate. Drawing on WRI tools, we will provide information about Indonesia’s progress in meeting its international commitments. Working with the New Climate Economy, we will show how low-carbon growth strategies create shared prosperity. We will also support Indonesia’s participation in the NDC Partnership.

Established in 2014, WRI Indonesia has grown rapidly to more than 100 staff and experts in 2018. Initially focused on forests, fundraising is under way to respond to demand for work on other challenges.


Mexico bridges two worlds. A developing country that is also a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the OECD, Mexico has been a global leader in climate action. The country has committed to reducing its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions, including high impact, short-lived pollutants, by 22 percent below the business-as-usual baseline.

WRI Mexico will support Mexico’s goals in four areas:

  • Cities. We will work with the national government and cities to promote compact, connected, coordinated and equitable cities. We will promote better policies, laws and projects to reduce traffic fatalities and pollution and to improve human health and quality of life.

  • Climate. We will help Mexico define a cost-effective roadmap to achieve its climate commitments and increase ambition. We will help cities and other subnational governments measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions, gain access to climate finance and incorporate climate adaptation into development initiatives.

  • Energy. We will work with government and the private sector to ensure that at least 40 percent of the energy in Mexico comes from clean and accessible sources, helping to decarbonize the economy. We will help accelerate energy efficiency in cities through policies, initiatives and investments.

  • Forests. We will work to help achieve Mexico’s Initiative 20x20 target to bring 8.5 million hectares (21 million acres) of degraded land into restoration by 2020. We will work with partners to identify and articulate initiatives, track progress and help mobilize finance.

WRI Mexico was established in 2016, growing out of a cities program office that had been active for 15 years. In 2018 the office had 50 staff in Mexico City.

United States

President Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse U.S. climate policies have catalyzed pledges from cities, states and companies seeking a low- carbon, resilient and prosperous future. WRI U.S. will help turn these commitments into action and speed the return of the U.S. to a role of climate leadership.

We will also work to advance sustainable economic growth in areas such as renewable energy and watershed protection and enhancement.

  • Climate. At the subnational level, we will aggregate and quantify commitments from states, cities and businesses as a knowledge partner in the America’s Pledge initiative and create a Cities Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data Portal to provide city-level emissions data, starting with the U.S. We will provide analytical support to We Are Still In, a coalition of states, cities, companies, universities and others dedicated to climate action.

    At the national level, we will provide analytical support to bipartisan coalitions such as the House Climate Solutions Caucus, to hasten the day when the U.S. resumes national action, accelerating emissions reductions and boosting investments in adaptation. We will prepare the way for an early return of U.S. global leadership—for example, by facilitating working-level and unofficial exchanges, such as Track II dialogues between the U.S. and China.

  • Energy. WRI will help drive rapid clean energy deployment by expanding our partnerships with large electricity buyers, including businesses and cities, and helping utilities and regulators decarbonize and modernize the grid. We will mobilize large electricity buyers seeking reliable supplies of renewable energy to shift utility business models toward clean energy.

  • Water. We will conduct research showing how natural infrastructure investments—such as watershed enhancements and wetlands preservation—are a cost-effective approach to improved water management and resilience. We will design and promote innovative mechanisms, such as green bonds, to finance these investments.

Since WRI was founded in Washington in 1982, we have used our location in the heart of the U.S. capital to advance nonpartisan, evidence-based solutions. We created WRI U.S. in 2016 to strengthen the strategic coherence of WRI’s extensive U.S. engagement.