IFs integrates long-range models of 12 core systems: agriculture, demographics, economics, education, energy, environment, government finance, governance, health, infrastructure, international politics, and technology. The structure of each model is extensive and draws on theory and approaches of other tools in its respective issue area. Some models, such as those for education, health, infrastructure, and governance, are effectively unique. The combined system facilitates forecasting for 186 countries and flexible country groupings with alternative scenarios through the SDG horizon of 2030 and, in fact, to 2100 as needed.
The 12 sub-models include more than 600 variables that cut across all SDGs. Further, IFs is packaged with more than 3,500 historical data series from a very wide range of data sources that facilitate cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis for large numbers of the SDG indicators across goals and targets.
Specialized display dashboards make analysis accessible to first-time users of the tool. In partnership with the UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support two new SDG displays combining historical analysis with forecasting are included in the latest version of IFs and will be further refined. They capture more than 50 indicators for the SDGs.
The tool's scenario analysis feature is especially valuable for assessing the long-term impact of interventions, both alternative policy assumptions and sensitivity analysis, within countries and across regions. Thus it is possible to explore alternative possible paths, with their trade-offs and synergies, in pursuit of individual or multiple development targets.
The tool has been used for trend and scenario analysis by national planning and development organizations worldwide, including the European Commission, UNDP (two Human Development Reports), USAID, Peru's National Center for Strategic Planning (CEPLAN), the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and the Inter-American Development Bank.
2017 (Version 7.28) Note: This is available upon request.
IFs is available in both on-line (www.Pardee.du.edu) and downloadable versions for use with Windows (www.pardee.du.edu/access-ifs). At this point only downloadable versions 7.29 and higher will include the specialized SDG forms, but all versions allow more general analysis of the SDGs.
The Specialized Displays included in IFs—including the dashboard focused on the SDGs—require minimal (less than 1-2 hours) training or even self exploration to effectively understand and compare Base Case (or reference run) forecasts with other pre-packaged scenarios across countries and groups.
However, with hundreds of additional analytical features and thousands of data series, using IFs to do more custom scenario analysis requires more advanced training and engagement with the platform, often done in 3-5 day workshops.
Digging into the model structure and fully understanding the dynamics of the integrated system is a much longer-term process and the time requirements depend on the background and commitment of the analyst.
Computer models and programmes, Training programmes, Econometric models, Scenario builders, forecasting and back-casting methodologies
2GB of hard drive space and 1 GB memory; operating systems supported are Windows XP through Windows 10.
The Frederick S. Pardee for International Futures at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver
Professor Barry Hughes
The Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures