Camilla Toulmin to step down in 2015

IIED director Camilla Toulmin writes about her decision to step down after ten years, and outlines how the institute will search for her successor.

Camilla Toulmin's picture
Insight by 
Camilla Toulmin
29 October 2014
Camilla Toulmin has led IIED since 2004

Camilla Toulmin has led IIED since 2004

After more than ten years as director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), I will be stepping down next year. 
I am both sad and happy to be making this move. Sad, because I have enormously enjoyed the challenge and the reward of leading such an interesting, diverse and lively organisation, on the forefront of the big issues that matter for our shared world, but happy because I feel the time is right for me to pass this opportunity to someone else to inject their vision and passions into our new strategy and for me to return to the work that I love – research and writing – particularly on land and climate change issues, and a focus on the drylands.
Our new chair of the board of trustees, Rebecca Grynspan, has approved with board colleagues a search process with a view to appointing a new director  in 2015. I will be happy to stay in place until such time as we have our new director on board as my return to a research role is not linked to a particular deadline. 
I joined IIED in 1987 to set up the drylands programme, which grew in strength and influence, with its quarterly newsletter Haramata, and Dryland Issue Papers. I took up the post of director in IIED in 2004 and focused on developing the institute's strategy and communications, bringing the diverse set of programmes and projects that existed then into a coherent single organisation.  
In this time I have seen IIED grow from 60 to more than 100 people, and our turnover from £5 million in 2005 to more than £20 million in 2013/14.

IIED's new strategy 2014-19 Engaging for Change pushes the boundaries of research, building partnerships and seeking to make progress in our four principal goal areas – climate change, natural resources, human settlements, and sustainable markets – and is challenging us to focus on four areas where we believe that the collective knowledge of our teams and our partners can contribute to changing narrative. These are:

  • Inclusive transitions to climate resilience and green economy
  • International engagement for a sustainable planet
  • Rights plus action, and
  • Fair consumption from sustainable food systems.

We have much exciting and significant work taking place in IIED – on forests and land, on investment and green economy, on building climate resilience in cities and local government, on food security and urban markets. Much of our effort goes into bridging local and global issues and arenas where we sense that progress can be made.
We are also consolidating our institutional processes to ensure continued improvements in organisational performance. The year 2015 is critical for global negotiations around climate and the post-2015 agenda. The road to Paris 2015 is a top priority, and I am relishing the opportunity to be closely involved with this.
So I shall stay focused on delivering both programmatic and institutional goals until we welcome our new director. Please also watch this space as I am hoping to share over the next few months some interesting experiences that I have had as director of IIED.

We would be very happy to hear from you concerning any potential candidates for leading IIED into the future. Should you wish to know more about the recruitment process, please be in touch with head of HR Nick Greenwood.