Our vision and strategy

IDS 2015 Strategy cover - man in Africa speaking to microphone

Our vision is of equal and sustainable societies, locally and globally, where everyone can live secure, fulfilling lives free from poverty and injustice.

Our mission

We believe passionately that cutting-edge research, knowledge and evidence are crucial in shaping the changes needed for our broader vision to be realised, and to support people, societies and institutions to navigate the challenges ahead. But dynamic global contexts and challenges require new kinds of research and knowledge, developed and shared in new ways.

How we will make a difference

Through our commitment to engaged excellence applied across the interlinked areas of research and knowledge, teaching and learning, and communications and impact, we will work locally and globally in mutual learning towards transformations that reduce inequalities, accelerate sustainability and build more inclusive and secure societies.

Working in partnership to address global challenges

Our 2015-2020 strategy is underpinned by three defining challenges.

Reduce inequalities Annual review 2015 graphic

Reduce inequalities

Reduce inequalities including economic, social and political inequalities that intersect and threaten to undermine future progress in reducing poverty, and ensure that the benefits of global economic growth more evenly contribute to the improved livelihoods and wellbeing of communities everywhere.

Read the framing paper: Inequality: Trends, Harms and New Agendas

Accelerate sustainability Annual Review 2015 graphic

Accelerate sustainability

Accelerate sustainability to meet the urgent challenges of environmental and climate change by restructuring economies and societies and finding development pathways that address global demand for resources while securing local livelihoods and justice in an increasingly pressurised and urbanised world.

Read the framing paper: Accelerating Sustainability: Why Political Economy Matters

Build inclusive and secure societies Annual Review 2015 graphic

Build inclusive and secure societies

Build inclusive and secure societies where citizens are protected against threats from conflict as well as environmental, economic, political and social shocks, and feel that they have a stake in the governance of the communities in which they live.

Read the framing paper: Whose Security? Building Inclusive and Secure Societies in an Unequal and Insecure World

We will develop and apply our engaged excellence approach, including strengthened global partnerships, to ensure our work contributes substantially to meeting these challenges.

Our goals

  1. Contribute to transformations that reduce inequalities, accelerate sustainability and build inclusive, secure societies.
  2. Embed engaged excellence and its four pillars across all that we do.
  3. Work locally and globally within a universal framing of development. 
  4. Create an institute that is thriving financially and organisationally, and living its values.

What is engaged excellence?

Engaged excellence is IDS’ distinctive approach to constructing and mobilising knowledge, and to teaching and mutual learning for development. Engaged excellence means that the high quality of our work (excellence) is dependent upon it linking to and involving those who are at the heart of the change we wish to see (engaged).


Our annual review

Get an overview of our values, work and approach, and read reflections from our Chair and Director in our Annual Review 2015 ‘Towards Global Development’.