The Think Tank Initiative (TTI), whose decade-long activities were dedicated to strengthening the capacity of independent policy research institutions and think tanks in developing countries, held its third and final Global Exchange, dubbed TTIX2018, in Bangkok, Thailand, from 12th to 14th November, 2018.

Launched in 2008 and managed by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), TTI was a partnership among five donors namely, Norad, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UKaid, Hewlett Foundation, and the International Development Research Centre, IDRC, Canada. The Exchange focused on 'Sustainable Organizations for Sustainable Development,' - an agenda woven from the Sustainable Development Goals.

A three-member delegation from the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) led by the Director, Prof. Felix Ankomah Asante, joined over 200 other delegates from across the world in Bangkok to witness the end of TTI. Other members of the ISSER delegation were Dr. Simon Bawakyillenuo, Head of Statistics and Survey Division, and Ms. Eccles Andoh, the Assistant Registrar/Administrative Secretary.

The Director of ISSER, Prof. F.A. Asante, was a Panel member in one of sixteen (16) Parallel Sessions on "The Think Tank-Based Research of Tomorrow'. In his contribution he touched on some gains and challenges from a research institute’s perspective. It was an insightful session about the experience of handling research funds and management in academia where one has to attend to university business as part of the Director's role.

ttt4 Prof Felix Asante 4th from right at one of the parallel sessions. From far left is Ms Eccles Andoh.

From his perspective, as a researcher-director one attends various meetings and also has the task of accounting for funds and meeting reporting deadlines for varied styles of accounting for different donor funds. These, in his words, must be done seamlessly with the day to day administrative challenges of a university administrative head of an institute - Director. The ISSER delegation participated in some parallel sessions and the Marketplace.

The sub-themes for the two-day parallel sessions centered on: Environment, agriculture and Climate change; Access to energy, water and resources; promoting gender equality in research; Urbanisation and sustainable cities, Governance, peace, justices and strong institutions; Economic growth and decent jobs; Good health and well-being and quality education; The Think Tank-Based Research of Tomorrow; Future business models for think tanks; Forward looking research; Gender in think tanks; Research excellence; New approaches to policy engagement; Ideology and independence; and Access to energy, water and resources.

The first day produced honest and thought-provoking debate on the general issue of how think tanks would continue to contribute to building more equitable and prosperous societies and, in particular, how think tanks can engage effectively with funders and manage the existential roles of the knowledge producer and curator in an era of fake news.

In a passionate speech full of optimism, Dr. Peter Taylor of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) emphasized that the end of the TTI programme did not mean the end of the collective journey of working together in order to bring positive change to society; for the individuals who formed the consortium of the TTI were driven not only by their wealth of skills and collective learning, but also by their passion for humanity.

In a keynote speech which opened the third and final day of the Exchange, titled "The moment is ripe for a change," Andrea Ordofiez, the director of Southern Voice, delivered a clear call to action: "Collaborate, build networks of think tanks and strengthen the voice of research from the Global South. This is the end of an era but not the end of the community." Her words encapsulated the sentiment of the exchange and its outcomes going forward.

A unique aspect of the TTIX2018 conference was the Marketplace which showcased the achievements of the 43 Think Tanks and this was christened: Explore and Engage.

The various think tanks mounted boards, displayed books, publications in the form of pamphlets, magazines, brochures and flyers.

ISSER’s stand displayed books, the 2016-17 Annual Report and a board that showcased the menace of ‘galamsey’ activities by illegal miners which polluted some rivers and water bodies as well as the environment. It also showed how River Pra was recovering.

On the first day of the 2-day exhibition, Dr Bawakyillenuo took time to explain to visitors to the ISSER stand what was on display. The visitors asked questions and showed appreciation of what was on display.

ttt3

On the second day, it was the turn of Ms Eccles Andoh. She engaged the visitors with hearty discussions, giving background to themes that kept them listening for long. The ISSER exhibition was well patronised and visitors took away books and the printed 2016 -17 Annual report.    

From his perspective, as a researcher-director one attends various meetings and also has the task of accounting for funds and meeting reporting deadlines for varied styles of accounting for different donor funds. These, in his words, must be done seamlessly with the day to day administrative challenges of a university administrative head of an institute - Director. The ISSER delegation participated in some parallel sessions and the Marketplace.

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