SEI is rated as the world’s most influential think tank on environmental policy issues in the University of Pennsylvania’s 2016 Global Go To Think Tanks Index, billed as the “premier database and measure of world think tanks”.
The index, which is based on a survey of thousands of journalists, policy-makers, donors and topic and regional specialists around the globe, using a detailed list of criteria including leadership and staff; quality and reputation of the research produced; policy impact and recognition; convening power; innovation; inclusiveness; and communications, among others.
Think tanks are ranked globally and by region and expertise. SEI was No. 2 in the last three years’ rankings of environmental think tanks, after the World Resources Institute, a frequent partner of SEI’s that is No. 3 this year.
“We are very pleased to have received this recognition of our work,” said SEI Executive Director Johan L. Kuylenstierna. “For us, it serves as proof that our work results in real impacts and is appreciated among our partners.”
“As with any successful organization, the most valuable asset we have are our 220 colleagues and the hundreds of partners we are working with in almost every corner of the planet,” said Kuylenstierna. “SEI has also benefited from strong, positive support from the Swedish government, making is possible to operate as an independent research organization and driving our research agenda forward.”
Bridging science and policy has been SEI’s mission since its creation in 1989, but in recent years, the institute has made significant investments to further strengthen its research, policy engagement and communications capacity.
The SEI Initiatives, launched as part of SEI’s 2015–2019 Strategy, concentrate expertise and resources in areas where SEI is well positioned to be a global leader. Some of SEI’s highest-profile work in 2016 was produced through the initiatives, such as studies of U.S. federal leases for coal and oil production, and the new Trase tool, a joint effort with the Global Canopy Programme that aims to bring transparency to global supply chains.
Partnerships are also crucial to SEI’s work: from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) and the New Climate Economy project, to regional collaborations such as the Arctic Resilience Report and the Sustainable Mekong Research Network (SUMERNET), coordinated by SEI’s Asia Centre.
SEI Deputy Director and Research Director Måns Nilsson said the think tank ranking is a validation of SEI’s core approach. “On one hand, we function as a think tank, working closely with policy-makers and development practitioners,” he said. “But we also ground all our engagements in rigorous scientific research. That combination adds real value in supporting policy responses to sustainable development problems.”
SEI’s approach is also a big part of why researchers are drawn to the institute, said Bernadette Resurrección, a senior research fellow in the Asia Centre and co-leader of SEI’s Gender and Social Equity Programme.
“SEI is like no other think tank or research institute I know,” she said. “Our staff is very diverse – multinational, multidisciplinary, with a wide range of perspectives – but we all share a commitment to producing research that is both scientifically robust and socially just. We don’t bring an agenda, but rather serve as honest brokers who bring people together to solve problems, making sure that all voices are heard. We work closely with policy-makers and a broad range of other stakeholders, and we build long-term, trusting relationships. As a researcher, I’m proud to be part of an organization with such strong values.”
See the 2016 Go To Think Tank Index Report (external link)