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Focus Areas

The mission of Resources for the Future is to improve environmental and natural resource policymaking worldwide through objective social science of the highest caliber. To increase its ability to deliver on its mission, RFF has identified five core research focus areas: 

RFF scholars are engaged with the linked issues of energy and climate policy on numerous fronts. These include strategies to cost-effectively constrain greenhouse gas emissions, limit cost uncertainties, promote developing country engagement, reduce emissions through averted deforestation and afforestation, and adapt to a changing climate. Additionally, RFF researchers are tackling the question of U.S. energy security by examining options for reducing U.S. dependence on oil. 

RFF has a long tradition of innovative research on health issues, opening up new avenues for cross-disciplinary research and policy solutions. Current research pursuits include mploying creative approaches to a host of health-related policy challenges, including valuing disparate health outcomes, and setting disease control priorities and health policy in developing countries.


Resource issues remain at the heart of RFF’s research agenda, including how to value and measure the benefits from nature and effectively manage forests, fisheries, water, agricultural resources, and even outer space in an interconnected world. Pioneering contributions by RFF scholars laid the foundation for current research efforts on ecosystem services and valuation.


Regulation has produced remarkable gains in environmental quality and safety in developed countries over the past 40 years, although in some cases at high cost. Lingering and emerging challenges have heightened the need for more effective and efficient regulatory strategies. The research agenda at RFF responds to this demand by developing improved techniques for regulatory analyses, analyzing the performance of environmental regulations and programs, and evaluating alternative regulatory approaches.


RFF research is informing policies for dealing with the intertwined issues of transportation and spatial development. Special attention is given to the interactions between the transportation system, land use, and the economy. Research themes include policies to reduce congestion, air pollution from cars, fuel use, and urban sprawl.


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