Dr Kopel

Informal Economy Research Program

Program Leader

Dr. Elizabeth Kopel is a Senior Research Fellow and Program Leader of the Informal Economy Research Program. She co- shares leadership of the Gender Research Program. Dr Kopel has a PhD from the University of York, UK; a MSc in Project Management (with Distinction) from the University of Northumbria, UK; a MSW from the University of Western Australia and a BSW Honours (First Class) from the University of PNG. Dr Kopel has a background in academia; teaching at the University of PNG and the University of Manchester, UK. She has extensive experience in consultancy work in the areas of social impact assessments and feasibility studies. She contributes to policy influence work through participation in relevant government committees and working groups. Her research interests include the informal economy, women’s economic empowerment, social development as well as urban settlements and housing.


Establishment and Mandate 

The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) was established as the  New  Guinea Research Unit (NGRU) of the Australian National University in 1961. When  PNG gained  independence in 1975, the NGRU became the Institute for Applied Social and  Economic  Research (IASER), and in 1993 was officially recognised as the National  Research Institute. The  PNG NRI is an independent statutory authority established by an  Act of Parliament in 1988 and  confirmed by the IASER (Amendment) Act 1993 to conduct  independent policy research into  economic and social development issues affecting PNG.

PNGNRITaglineThe Act states that the functions of the PNG NRI are:“(a) the promotion of research into  Papua  New Guinea society and the economy”, and in particular “(b), the undertaking of  research into  social, political and economic problems of Papua New Guinea in order to  enable practical  solutions to such problems to be formulated.”

Vision and Mission

  • The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) is recognised among the  leading public policy think tanks in the Asia – Pacific region.
  • The Papua New Guinea National Research Institute will provide quality research which  contributes to evidence – based public policies and decision – making processes that  improve service delivery, leading to better quality of life for all Papua New Guineans.


PNG NRI is committed to inquiring, informing and influencing Papua New Guinea’s future through  conducting cutting-edge policy research, the facilitation of public dialogue, and influencing decision  making.

We inquire, to better understand problems.

We inform, to help others understand those problems.

We influence, advocating for effective public policies based on research and evidence.