IDRC and Partners Pledge US$21 Million to Bolster Think Tanks in South Asia
Funding to strengthen development policy discussions and contribute to more equitable and prosperous societies
Ottawa, Canada, July 12, 2010 – The Think Tank Initiative has selected 16 think tanks, or independent policy research institutions, in South Asia to receive a total of US$21 million to strengthen their roles as influential players in national policymaking. Each think tank will receive long-term funding, enabling them to conduct research that is fundamental to the development of sound policy.
“International donors continue to invest in policy research undertaken by Western institutions and sometimes forget that it is strong local think tanks that often generate the most effective policymaking in developing countries,” says David Malone, President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Launched by IDRC, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008, the Think Tank Initiative is a step towards reversing this trend. It aims to support local think tanks to produce high-quality research that will improve policies and, ultimately, contribute to more equitable and prosperous societies. The US$21 million investment in South Asia is matched by US$14 million in Latin America and follows US$30 million in grants to 24 think tanks in East and West Africa in 2009.
Think tanks in the developing world are in a unique position to effect change in their societies. They can strengthen public policy debates and promote more objective, evidence-based decision-making. However, most never receive predictable core funding, instead depending on short-term project grants and consultancy contracts. This Initiative provides think tanks with stable funding so that they can attract, retain and build local talent, develop an independent research program, and invest in outreach to ensure that research results are used in policy debates.
The Initiative received over 150 proposals from a wide range of South Asian think tanks that focus on broad national, social, and economic policy issues. Following a thorough and rigorous review process, 16 institutions were selected from five countries - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
“Our current dependence on individual sponsored projects makes it difficult for our scholars to sustain their research interests over long periods of time. The scale and span of support being made available through the Think Tank initiative will give us an important opportunity to focus our research effort towards longer-term public policy concerns”, observed Suman Bery, Director-General of New Delhi’s National Council of Applied Economic Research. “The resources of the think tank initiative will also allow us to improve our networking and communications.”
The Initiative’s three initial funders have now been joined by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS). This strengthened partnership is a concrete move toward establishing and nurturing strong local policy research institutions that ultimately help generate smart and effective policymaking. “This is an exciting and innovative initiative. It will provide a much needed support for evidence-based research and policy on global issues such as economic growth, good governance and citizen empowerment, which will help tackle poverty in South Asia and Latin America” says Michael Anderson, Director General for Policy and Global Issues at DFID.
The Initiative is envisioned as a long-term investment over at least 10 years. The five donors have committed a total of about US$110 million to the program.
For more information about the Think Tank Initiative please visit www.idrc.ca/thinktank.
Notes to Editors
The 16 South Asian think tanks receiving grants are:
Bangladesh: Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Institute of Governance Studies (IGS)
India: Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), Centre for Policy Research (CPR), Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS), Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), Institute of Rural Management (IRMA), Public Affairs Centre (PAC)
Nepal: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition Nepal (ISET-N)
Pakistan: Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
Sri Lanka: Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS)
Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) supports research in developing countries to promote growth and development. IDRC also encourages sharing this knowledge with policymakers, other researchers, and communities around the world. The result is innovative, lasting local solutions that aim to bring choice and change to those who need it most. Learn more at www.idrc.ca
About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, and population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at www.hewlett.org
About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org
About the UK Department for International Development
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) manages the UK’s aid to poor developing countries and leads its fight against world poverty. DFID works with governments in developing countries to help them lift their citizens – the poorest and most disadvantaged - out of poverty by providing proper health care and education, fostering good governance and promoting equitable economic growth. DFID also works with charities, businesses and international bodies, including the World Bank, UN agencies and the European Commission, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the international targets agreed by the United Nations to halve world poverty by 2015. Learn more at www.dfid.gov.uk
About the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation
The Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for development cooperation policy, its coordination, implementation, and funding. The Netherlands works with the governments of other countries and with international organizations such as the UN, the World Bank, and the EU. DGIS themes include gender, Aids, education, sustainable economic development, and the environment. Learn more at www.minbuza.nl
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Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS)