The Institute of Environment and Development (LESTARI) was established on October 1, 1994 as an institute conducting multidisciplinary research and training activities under the structure of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Its establishment meets university aspirations inspired during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to realize sustainable development goals through capacity research and development.

LESTARI was established to conduct comprehensive and balanced research on the environment and development as well as assist the government in policy formulation. The establishment of LESTARI also serves to enhance human resource capacity through skills training and development among government officials, the private sector and the community.