Resources for the Future

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Resources for the Future is an organization based in Washington, DC.


"Resources for the Future improves environmental and natural resource policymaking worldwide through objective social science research of the highest caliber."

RFF Today

"RFF is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that conducts independent research – rooted primarily in economics and other social sciences – on environmental, energy, natural resource and public health issues.

Although RFF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., its research scope comprises programs in nations around the world. Founded in 1952, RFF was created at the recommendation of William Paley, then head of the Columbia Broadcasting System, who had chaired a presidential commission that examined whether the United States was becoming overly dependent on foreign sources of important natural resources and commodities. RFF became the first think tank devoted exclusively to natural resource and environmental issues.

For more than 50 years, RFF has pioneered the application of economics as a tool to develop more effective policy about the use and conservation of natural resources. Its scholars continue to analyze critical issues concerning pollution control, energy and transportation policy, land and water use, hazardous waste, climate change, biodiversity, ecosystem management, public health, and the environmental challenges of developing countries.

Today, RFF’s staff encompasses some 40 researchers working within five defined Focus Areas:

  • Energy and Climate
  • Regulating Risks
  • Transportation and Urban Land
  • The Natural World
  • Human Health

Most RFF researchers hold doctorates in economics, but others hold advanced degrees in engineering, law, ecology, city and regional planning, American government, and public policy and management, among other disciplines. In addition to its research staff, RFF has a development office, a communications office, a book publishing operation, and various research support functions, including a specialized library.

Operating as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, RFF has earned a reputation for conducting independent, nonpartisan research and policy analysis of the highest quality. RFF eagerly shares the results of its work with policymakers in government at all levels, environmental and business organizations, academicians, the media, and the interested public. RFF neither lobbies nor takes positions on specific legislative or regulatory proposals, although individual researchers, speaking for themselves and not for RFF, do formulate specific policy recommendations based on the findings in their work.

RFF’s success is made possible by the financial support of individuals and organizations that have the vision to see the role research plays in formulating sound public policies. More than 70 percent of the money raised from individuals, corporations, private foundations, and government agencies goes directly to our research and public education activities."


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