Home / 7th South Asian Regional Meeting of the TTI

7th South Asian Regional Meeting of the TTI

 

The seventh Regional Meeting (RM7) of the South Asian Think Tanks (SATTs) will be held from 5 to 7 February 2018 at BRAC-CDM Savar in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The theme for RM7 is Remaining Relevant in the Policy World: Sustainability Challenges of Think Tanks.

The three-day long meeting will explore how the support from the IDRC to the South Asian cohort of SATTs has strengthened their capacities in terms of generating new knowledge and becoming more effective in policy engagement. The SATTs will also discuss how they will continue to pursue policy engagement in the coming days once TTI withdraws its support to them.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) is jointly hosting the regional meeting. 

Concept NoteProgrammeDiscussion BoardTTIThink Tanks

Concept Note

1. Background

The seventh regional meeting (RM7) of the South Asian Think Tank (SATTs) will be held at a time when the second phase of Think Tank Initiative (TTI) will come close to the finishing line. Most SATTs have had the experience of about eight years of TTI support. During the previous six regional meetings, SATTs shared their experiences on their successes and lessons as think tanks (TTs) and their strategies and approaches towards strengthening organisational capacity, improving research quality and enhancing outreach. Regional meetings have indeed created the platform where TTs also got an opportunity to understand each other’s challenges in policy engagement. TTs did examine the contexts within which they function, and how to bring innovation in their approaches to face new challenges emanating at the national and global levels.

Taking cues from the earlier regional meetings, RM7 will explore how the support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to the South Asian cohort of Think Tanks (SATTS) has strengthened their capacities to generate new knowledge and become more effective in policy engagement. The SATTs will also discuss how they will continue to pursue their policy engagement in the coming days once TTI withdraws its support to them.

In the above context, the theme of the RM7 has been chosen to be Remaining Relevant in the Policy World: Sustainability Challenges of Think Tanks.” The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) will organise RM7 during 5-7 February 2018 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

2. Objectives of RM7

CPD and BIGD seek to organise a South Asian Regional Meeting of all the grantees of the TTI. The key objectives for the RM7 are as follows:

  • Take stock of and showcase activities of the participating think tanks to understand what has changed during the TTI support phase;
  • Share learning process on innovative research methods and tools, tapping into new evidence sources, advanced ways of policy engagement and innovative communication strategies to expand outreach;
  • Understand the future of the TTI supported TT cohort and develop elements of post-TTI strategy in order to sustain the network of the TT cohort.

3. Agenda for the Meeting

Session 1: Talking Heads

This session will take stock of the TTI experience where the heads of the TTs will reflect on and present their stories of change.

Discussions will revolve around individual country context (changes over the years), and how this has created opportunities and challenges for new areas of work, funding and other issues. The deliberation on failures (or, ‘things that could be done better’) should be highlighted more than the successes of core support.  It is also important to collectively discuss where the SATTs could have improved their efforts to put the core support to its best use.

Session 2: Sustainable Think Tank (STT) Project 

The Sustainable Think Tanks (STT) Project aims to capture the experience and lessons from this unique core support programme of the TTI. The project will document the status of social science research in South Asia with respect to its impact on think tanks and public policy discourse.

This session will elaborate on the project and report the work in progress. A video presentation on the stories of TTs may complement the discussion of the session.

Session 3: Ensuring Sustainability of Think Tanks? Finance and Beyond

The session will discuss sustainability in four different areas:

  • Quality of Research
  • Effectiveness of Policy Outreach
  • Finance
  • Human Resource

In this session, participants will think of what methods and modalities of support are more suitable in the emerging funding landscape, and have some innovative ways to suggest to donors, keeping in mind the reality that TTI-type core funds are nearly ruled out in the current climate.

Session 4:  Remembering Saman Kelegama

This session will reflect on the contribution of one of South Asia’s thought leaders, late Dr Saman Kelegama, former Executive Director of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), who had dedicated his professional life in promoting South Asian integration.

The theme of the session is “South Asia at Cross Roads: Role of Thought Leaders as Change Agents.”

Session 5: Role of Think Tanks in Delivering the SDGs: Emerging Ideas from the Field

In this session, TTs working on the SDGs will share their experiences on how to deliver the SDGs at the country level and how the people at the grassroots level can be involved in the implementation process of the SDGs. One of the key focuses will be on what the concept of “Leave No One Behind” means for various stakeholders and grassroots-level people. TTs may present case studies on their activities to share their experience.

Session 6: Connecting Think Tanks with the private sector (corporate and philanthropy)

There are a number of private sector foundations or members who are already engaged in corporate social responsibilities and philanthropy. The full appreciation of evidence-based policy influencing research among the private sector is still absent. However, the private sector is not immune to national, regional and global challenges that have implications for all members of the society. How the private sector can work with think tanks towards addressing issues such as climate change, good governance, capacity building and empowerment, achievement of various targets under the Sustainable Development Goals, and other issues that are important for advancing developing countries should be discussed.

Session 7: Elements of Post-TTI Strategy

Once the TTI ceases its support to think tanks, it is expected that think tanks will continue to collaborate among themselves in areas of common interests. For the sustainability of the TT cohort, participants will chart out various strategies for both organisational sustainability and the network’s sustainability.

Session 8:  Role of Southern TTs in Global Knowledge Ecosystem

Southern think tanks have always been marginalised in the global knowledge ecosystem. Being located in the South, think tanks of the region are considered local while the northern think tanks automatically assume the identity as “global” think tanks. Due to locational disadvantages, Southern think tanks remain outside the network which works on global issues even though many southern think tanks have equal competence as the northern think tanks, and the global agenda has relevance for southern countries.

This session will bring out the challenges of southern think tanks as regards being part of the global knowledge ecosystem and overcoming such problems.

Session 9: Do we meet again? Future of the South Asian Network

This session will discuss the sustainability of the network that has developed and strengthened during the TTI period. The TTI awardees should go home with a sense of purpose. This session will also summarise the takeaway from previous sessions during the 3-day long meeting.

4. Participation

In continuation of the previous regional meetings, each think tank will nominate up to four (4) (Executive Director + 3) participants to attend the meeting. The participants may include professionals from research, communication and HR divisions. This will allow discussions around research and organisational issues including finance and outreach activities.

In addition to TTI-supported South Asian TTs, about 12 participants from a number of TTs from Myanmar will join the regional meeting for the first time. This is in view of the prospective support of IDRC to a few TTs in Myanmar. RM7 will provide them with an exposure to the activities undertaken by the SATTs, the challenges faced and the successes achieved through TTI support. For the Dr Saman Kelegama Memorial Lecture, we will invite the family members of Dr Kelegama (wife and two children). Besides, there will be about 14 participants for the Gender workshop to be help prior to the formal opening of RM7 (concept note presented below). In total, there will be about 100 participants at RM7.

Programme

 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Workshop on “Gender for research and organisational excellence”

09:30 am – 10:00 am Registration and Reception
10:00 am – 10:05 am Welcome
10:05 am – 10:10 am About the session
10:10 am – 12:40 pm Gender in research
12:40 pm – 01:30 pm Lunch (interactive)
01:30 – 03:00 pm Gender in organisational excellence
Interactive Session

 

DAY 1: Monday, 5 February 2018

08:30 am – 09:00 am Registration and Reception
09:00 am – 10:00 am Setting the Scene

Objectives of this opening session are to contextualise RM7, overview of the programme and expected outcome

Promo Video

Welcome Remarks

Fahmida Khatun
Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)

Sultan Hafeez Rahman
Executive Director
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD)

Distinguished Speaker

Andrew Hurst
Program Leader, Think Tank Initiative (TTI)
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Guest of Honour

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
Founder Chairperson, BRAC

Remarks by the Chair

Professor Rehman Sobhan
Chairman, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)

10:00 am – 10:30 am Photo Session and Tea Break
10:30 am – 01:00 pm Session 1

Talking Heads

This session will take stock of TTI experience. Head of TTs will reflect on their Stories of Change.

A 3-minute video for each TT and then supplement it with talks.

Discussions of individual country context (changes since last year) and how this has created opportunities and challenges for new areas of work, funding and any other issues. Here we should deliberate on failures, more than on successes of core support. If we are not ok with the term ‘failure’, we may choose ‘things that could be done better’ language. It is important that we collectively also discuss where we failed to put core support to best use.

While presenting stories, we have to think of innovative ways rather than just a narrative being told. We could think of stories to come alive as they are narrated, using creativity and technology.

01:00 pm – 02:00 pm Lunch
02:00 pm – 03:30 pm Session 2

Ensuring Sustainability of Think Tanks: Finance and Beyond

Four Group discussions on four themes and plenary reporting

The session will discuss sustainability in 4 different areas:

i.    Quality of Research

ii.   Effectiveness of Policy outreach

iii.  Finance

iv.  Human Resource

The objective is to arrive at some understanding of mechanisms and modalities to maintain independence and credible within and outside institutions.

03:30 pm – 04:00 pm Tea Break
04:00 pm – 05:00 pm Session 3

Sustainable Think Tank (STT) project 

The session will follow a Talk Show format

Moderator

Panellists

The Sustainable Think Tanks Project aims to capture the experience and lessons from this unique core support programme of the TTI. The project will document the status of social science research in South Asia with respect to its impact on think tanks and public policy discourse.

This session will elaborate on the project and report the work in progress. A video presentation on the stories of TTs may complement the discussion of the session.

05:00 pm – 06:00 pm

 

Session 4

Remembering Saman Kelegama

South Asia at Cross Roads: Role of Thought Leaders as Change Agents

The session will begin with a video on Saman Kelegama

Moderator

Opening Remarks

Dushni Weerakoon

Executive Director, IPS

Reminiscence by TT Community

This will be an open platform. Those who knew Saman closely are encouraged to share their memories

Speech of Special Guests

Saman Kelegama’s family members

7.00 pm BBQ Dinner

 

DAY 2: Tuesday, 6 February 2018

08:30 am – 09:00 am Welcome Tea/Coffee
09:00 am – 11:00 am Session 5

Role of think tanks in delivering the SDGs: Emerging ideas from the field

This session will be in the debate format

Moderator

Panellists

In this session, TTs working on SDGs will share their experiences on how to deliver the SDGs at the country level and how the people at the grassroots level can be involved in the implementation process of the SDGs. TTs may present case studies on their activities. A video on “Leave No One Behind” will be played at the beginning of the session.

11:00 am – 11:30 am Tea Break
11:30 am – 01:00 pm Session 6

Connecting Think Tanks with the private sector (corporate and philanthropy)

Interactive Discussion

Moderator

Panellists

There are a number of private sector foundations or members who are already engaged in corporate social responsibilities and philanthropy. The full appreciation of evidence-based policy influencing research among the private sector is still absent. However, the private sector is not immune to national, regional and global challenges that have implications for all across the board. How the private sector can work with think tanks towards addressing issues such as climate change, good governance,  capacity building, achievement of various targets under the Sustainable Development Goals, and other issues that are important for advancing  developing countries should be discussed.

01:00 pm – 02:00 pm Lunch and networking break
02:00 pm – 03:30 pm Session 7

Elements of a Post-TTI Strategy

Interactive Discussion

Moderator

Panellists

Once TTI ceases its support to think tanks, it is expected that the think tanks will continue to collaborate among themselves in areas of common interests. For the sustainability of the TT cohort, participants will chart out various strategies for both organisational sustainability and the network’s sustainability.

03:30 pm – 04:00 pm Refreshments
04:00 pm – 06:00 pm Networking and Game Time
7.00 pm Cultural Programme and Dinner

 

DAY 3: Wednesday, 7 February 2018

08:30 am – 09:00 am Welcome Tea/Coffee
09:00 am – 11:00 am Session 8

Role of Southern TTs in Global Knowledge Ecosystem

Interactive Discussion

Moderator

Panellists

Southern think tanks have always been marginalised in the global knowledge ecosystem. Being located in the South, think tanks of the region are considered local while the northern think tanks automatically assume the identity as “global” think tanks. Due to locational disadvantages, Southern think tanks remain outside the network which works on global issues even though many southern think tanks have equal competence as the northern think tanks, and the global agenda has relevance for southern countries.

This session will bring out the challenges of southern think tanks of being part of the global knowledge ecosystem and how to overcome such problems.

11:00 am – 11:30 am Tea Break
11:30 am – 01:00 pm Session 9

Do we meet again? Future of the South Asian Network

Video on Visual Journey of TTI (5-6 minutes)

Interactive Discussion

Moderator

Open Discussion

Closing remarks

Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

This session will discuss the sustainability of the network that has developed and strengthened during the TTI period. The TTI awardees should go home with a sense of purpose. This session will also summarise the takeaway from previous sessions during the 3-day long meeting.

12:30 pm – 01:30 pm Lunch
02:00 pm – 05:00 pm Cricket Match
05:00 pm Refreshments

 

As the second phase of Think Tank Initiative (TTI) is coming to an end, weaving a discussion reflecting on the experience of the TTI grantees will generate a coherent stock of knowledge, which will have pragmatic value in making the ways towards future. We encourage the TTI grantees to share their experience and voice their opinion while commenting on others in this Discussion Board. The knowledge generated through this discussion will be compiled and shared during Think Tank Initiative’s 7th South Asia Regional Meeting 2018.

Click here to join the discussion.

 

Strengthening independent policy research institutions in developing countries.

The Think Tank Initiative (TTI) is dedicated to strengthening the capacity of independent policy research institutions in the developing world. Launched in 2008 and managed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), TTI is a partnership between five donors.

TTI currently provides 43 think tanks in 20 countries with core, non-earmarked funding. This support, which comprises up to 30 percent of their operating budgets, allows the institutions to attract, retain and build local talent, develop an independent research program, and invest in public outreach to ensure that research results inform and influence national and regional policy debates.

TTI seeks to nurture the long-term sustainability of the think tanks it funds. As such, core funding is combined with dedicated capacity development support by program officers and external experts in three broad areas: research methods and skills, policy engagement and communication, and general organizational effectiveness. TTI also supports peer-to-peer review, learning and exchange.

Visit TTI website.

South Asian Think Tanks

 

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD, formerly IGS)
South Asia: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Research areas: Economics, Governance

Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP)
South Asia: Bangalore, India
Research areas: Development, Environment & Natural Resources, Governance, Information & Communication

Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA)
South Asia: Delhi, India
Research areas: Economics, Food & Agriculture, Governance

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
South Asia: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Research areas: Development, Economics, Environment & Natural Resources, Food & Agriculture, Social Policy

Centre for Policy Research (CPR)
South Asia: Delhi, India
Research areas: Development, Economics, Environment & Natural Resources, Governance, Social Policy

Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)
South Asia: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Research areas: Development, Environment & Natural Resources, Evaluation, Governance, Social Policy

Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)
South Asia: Delhi, India
Research areas: Development, Governance, Health, Social Policy

Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (IIDS)
South Asia: Delhi, India
Research areas: Development, Governance, Social Policy

Institute for Social and Environmental Transition – Nepal (ISET-N)
South Asia: Kathmandu, Nepal
Research areas: Development, Environment & Natural Resources, Food & Agriculture, Governance

Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS)
South Asia: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Research areas: Economics, Food & Agriculture, Governance, Social Policy

National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)
South Asia: Delhi, India
Research areas: Development, Economics, Food & Agriculture, Social Policy

Public Affairs Centre (PAC)
South Asia: Bangalore, India
Research areas: Development, Environment & Natural Resources, Governance

Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC)
South Asia: Karachi, Pakistan
Research areas: Development, Economics, Governance, Social Policy

Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
South Asia: Islamabad, Pakistan
Research areas: Economics, Environment & Natural Resources, Food & Agriculture, Health, Social Policy