The CAREC Institute, as a Secretariat of the CAREC Think Tanks Network (CTTN), held a virtual dialogue on 24 March 2021 where think tank representatives – Center for China and Globalization (CCG), the PRC; Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Japan; Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan; Economic Research Institute (ERI), Mongolia; Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD), Azerbaijan; United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) – shared their experiences of policy support to governments, and deliberated on the strategies to remain relevant in times of crisis.
While the COVID-19 pandemic left governments reeling and scrambling to find appropriate policy responses to minimize the impact and shore up severely affected businesses and vulnerable communities, it also pushed the think tanks to find new ways or realign their busines models to transform academic research into timely policy-oriented, easy-to-use, accessible, and reliable information for better policymaking. The importance of helpful information and immediate policy advice to support government actions and facilitate threat mitigation could not be overemphasized during this pandemic.
The virtual dialogue participants deliberated about good examples and lessons learned on the role of think tanks for informed public policy responses during the COVID-19 pandemic, strategies to adapt to a new reality to develop and share cogent analysis and practical advice to decision-makers in a potential crisis with multi-dimensional challenges.
It was advised that think tanks shall remain relevant with national priorities to provide evidence for decision making; foster partnerships with national and international think tanks; work closely with sectoral representatives to understand the gravity of issues and voice these issues at relevant forums; serve as a bridge among elected representatives, media, and communities; use virtual platforms and forums; and provide data analytics and data visualization.