IDRC and partners pledge US$35 million to bolster think tanks in Latin America and South Asia

Ottawa, Canada, July 12, 2010 – The Think Tank Initiative has selected 28 think tanks, or independent policy research institutions, in Latin America and South Asia to receive a total of US$35 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$35 million investment in Latin America and South Asia 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 300 proposals from a wide range of Latin American and South Asian think tanks that focus on broad national, social, and economic policy issues. Following a thorough and rigorous review process, 28 institutions were selected from seven countries in Latin America – Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, and Peru; and five countries in South Asia - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

"We are convinced that the support given by the Think Tank Initiative and the collaboration with other policy centres in ours and other regions of the world will allow Grupo FARO to continue to accompany Ecuador and Latin America in the road to development” says Orazio Bellettini, Executive Director of Ecuador’s Fundación para el Avance de las Reformas y las Oportunidades (Grupo FARO), one of the think tanks selected.

Dr. Rajendra P. Mamgain, Director of the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies adds "The IDRC Think Tank Initiative’s core grant to the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies will be crucial to develop its research programmes in wider spheres, strategize group-specific inclusive policies, strengthen partnerships with various stakeholders, improve outreach through effective networking and develop the support system for a competent research capacity."

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

The 12 Latin American think tanks receiving grants are:

Bolivia: Fundación ARU, Instituto de Estudios Avanzados en Desarrollo (INESAD)
Ecuador: Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental (CEDA), Fundación para el Avance de las Reformas y las Oportunidades (Grupo FARO)
El Salvador: Fundación Dr Guillermo Manuel Ungo (FUNDAUNGO), Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo Económico y Social/ Departamento de Estudios Económicos y Sociales (FUSADES/DEES)
Guatemala: Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES)
Honduras: Foro Social de Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras (FOSDEH)
Paraguay: Centro de Análisis y Difusión de la Economía Paraguaya (CADEP), Instituto Desarrollo (ID)
Peru: Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo (GRADE), Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP)

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)

About IDRC

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

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

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

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

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

Media contacts:

Maria Urbina-Fauser
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The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Jack Fischer
Tel: +1-650 234-4500 x5744
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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Tel: +1-206-709-3400
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Department for International Development (DFID)
Swati Sahi
Tel: +11-4279-3435
[email protected]

Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS)
Tel: +31-70-3486486
[email protected]

Published: 19 Jul 2010

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