A partnership of research institutions
from around the world supporting
change for a sustainable future


Formed in 2012, the Independent Research Forum (IRF) partnership brought together organisations working on sustainable development around the world. The project is now closed. This website is no longer updated, but allows access to IRF blogs and recent publications until December 2019 when it will also close.

•  Read more about how we helped to shape the 2030 agenda in our final blog
Find information about the project on the IIED website
•  View and download key publications from the IIED publications library


Established in 2012, the IRF partnership brings together a breadth of research and policy analysis skills, scientific expertise and practical on the ground experience across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development.

IRF partners have a shared commitment to furthering sustainable development, which is reflected in the values we hold and the work we do individually and collectively.

Our combined networks of relationships with governments, regional bodies and civil society organisations around the world, combined with our strong research and facilitation capacity, put us in a unique position to bring together the key people who matter to develop coherent, integrated knowledge-based agendas for change.

Our track-record

In the period leading up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda by UN Member States in 2015, IRF organised a series of eight informal retreats for senior government negotiators and UN officials to create a space to share diverse perspectives and find common ground on complex, potentially divisive issues. Materials prepared for each retreat can be accessed here.

Comments from participants in the IRF retreats for UN Open Working Group on the SDGs government negotiators and UN Officials:

"I am so grateful to you and your team. If we have any success at the end you rightfully may claim the credit and prize for that."

"I think these events are incredibly useful. Not only are they a good way of learning more about certain topics, but it is a fun way of finding common ground and identifying joint aspirations."

"Excellent in terms of themes, focus, timing. Helps develop a shared understanding, and commitment across country typologies."

IRF also engaged in action research on what is needed to achieve the aims of the 2030 Agenda in different contexts and countries, including the Caribbean (pdf), Chile and southern Africa.

IRF partnered with the Government of Sweden to convene an event at the 2016 UN High Level Political Forum on How can national planning assure that no one is left behind?

Current activities

Working under the auspices of the High Level Group of Heads of State for the 2030 Agenda, IRF is organising a series of informal regional retreats to share learning among countries on the opportunities to national development offered by the SDGs. The retreats will provide a “safe space” for senior government officials charged with national processes around the 2030 Agenda and their national partners to share ideas and experiences on how to achieve the transformative change called for in the new agenda. The first retreat of the series will be held in Colombia in autumn 2017, with up to three additional retreats to be held between late 2017 and mid-2018.