About RFF

Resources for the Future (RFF) is an independent, nonpartisan organization that conducts rigorous economic research and analysis to help leaders make better decisions and craft smarter policies about natural resources and the environment.

RFF was the first think tank devoted exclusively to natural resource and environmental issues and helped create the field of environmental and natural resource economics. Since 1952, it has provided decisionmakers with the tools to improve the way policy choices are made, strengthening both the environment and the economy. Although RFF is located in Washington, DC, its research scope comprises programs in nations around the world.

RFF at a glance:


RFF’s mission is to improve environmental and natural resource policymaking worldwide through objective social science research of the highest caliber.


RFF envisions a world where environmental and economic decisions in the public and private sectors are made with a full understanding of the potential implications for present and future generations and the world in which they live.

Core Values

RFF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization and has earned a reputation for conducting independent, nonpartisan policy analysis of the highest quality and generating nonproprietary, publicly available research. RFF operates according to four core values:

  1. Environmental economics: RFF experts provide sound economic approaches to environmental, energy, and natural resource policy issues.
  2. Research excellence and integrity: Research and analysis at RFF are based on intellectual expertise and academic rigor.
  3. Independent analysis: RFF is a nonpartisan organization that helps leaders make informed decisions.
  4. Practical solutions: Research by RFF experts addresses real issues that are critical to the future.

RFF researchers share the results of their 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—can formulate specific policy recommendations based on the findings in their work.


RFF brings together the world’s largest community of PhD economists and leading experts focused on environmental, natural resource, and energy issues to develop smart solutions that balance the need for both economic growth and environmental stewardship.

Most RFF researchers hold a doctorate in economics, but others have advanced degrees in engineering, law, ecology, city and regional planning, government, and public policy and management, among other disciplines. Former government officials often serve as visiting experts at RFF to provide insight into the policy process. RFF’s network of connections within the policy and academic worlds allows it to be a preeminent convener and source of cutting-edge, policy-relevant ideas.

Learn more about RFF’s experts.


RFF’s Board of Directors includes industry and environmental leaders as well as former state and federal policymakers and preeminent scholars.

Learn more about RFF’s Board of Directors.


As a 501(c)(3) organization, RFF is supported by donors who understand the role that rigorous, objective research plays in formulating sound public policies. More than 70 percent of the funding raised from individuals, corporations, private foundations, and government agencies goes directly to RFF’s research and public education activities.​​​​​

Learn more about supporting RFF’s commitment to excellence.


RFF was founded in 1952 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.

Learn more about RFF’s legacy.