The Governing Council of the CAREC Institute announces changes in the leadership of the CAREC Institute in accordance with the institute’s management rotation procedures. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah will be completing his term as the Director of the CAREC Institute on November 10, 2022.
Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah has demonstrated enormous energy and commitment in responding to the current challenges facing the CAREC region. During three years of his leadership, the institute has undergone a significant transformation to better respond to the emerging knowledge needs of the CAREC member countries. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah initiated a progress review of the institute’s Strategy 2018-2022 to assess the implementation progress and finetune strategic focus and operational priorities in the wake of the adjusted operational model of the institute and the evolving regional landscape. Subsequently, a new forward-looking strategy for 2021-2025 has been developed to effectively respond to the changing needs for regional knowledge caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
New regional challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and conflict in Ukraine have required new knowledge for policy actions by CAREC member countries. Under the leadership of Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah, the CAREC Institute stepped up its policy advocacy work to assist member governments in policy development at an unprecedented time when the role of think tanks has been an indispensable need of the hour. The CAREC Institute expanded its research portfolio by conducting new studies, regular economic monitoring and assessments, providing a wide range of capacity building activities using online learning technologies, expanding partnerships with national and regional think tanks and international development institutions, and accelerating knowledge sharing.
The operational management of the CAREC Institute has been strengthened. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah effectively led the institute’s transition to remote work and initiated new audit and financial risk assessments. The institute has streamlined its human resources and operational management by introducing modern management practices and reviewing the relevant rules and regulations.
The Governing Council of the CAREC Institute thanks Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah for his work, which has strengthened and professionalized the work of the CAREC Institute.
In accordance with the rotation procedure for the management of the CAREC Institute, member countries alternate in the position of director in alphabetical order. The new director is nominated by the government of the respective member country and appointed by the institute’s Governing Council for a term of two years.
Ten key achievements of the CAREC Institute under the leadership of Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah:
1. Urumqi becomes the host city of the Institute. The institute signed a host city memorandum with the city of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to formalize a long-term partnership aimed at developing regional cooperation. The signing ceremony was personally attended by the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Finance, the Mayor of Urumqi Municipality, and the Director General of the Xinjiang Department of Finance, as well as prominent government officials.
2. A new array of research projects on various aspects of regional integration. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah guided the CAREC Institute’s research focus on key economic development topics in the CAREC region, making concrete and valuable suggestions for the knowledge products. He has provided support on important research reports such as CAREC Post-Pandemic Framework for a Green, Sustainable and Inclusive Recovery, CAREC Regional Economic Integration Index, Water-Energy-Agriculture Nexus, Vaccination Attitudes in Selected CAREC countries, Digital CAREC, Unlocking Transport Connectivity, Financial Inclusion and Fintech in CAREC, Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation, Development of Sustainable Water and Sanitation Systems, numerous economic and policy briefs and Quarterly Economic Monitors, and a series of papers produced by visiting fellows and members of the CAREC Think Tank Network, and others. To ensure the quality of publications the CAREC Institute established the Publication Board to evaluate upcoming publications.
3. E-learning. To address the impossibility of face-to-face knowledge services during the COVID-19 pandemic, an e-learning platform was established which formed a virtual learning space. The platform hosts seminars on investment in infrastructure and transport corridors, road asset management and road safety, e-commerce development, and environmental goals. The platform also hosts conferences, webinars, and policy dialogues to share knowledge and experience on various aspects of the social and economic policies of CAREC countries. The cloud space of the e-learning platform is filled with video-audio recordings and various reading materials. All educational materials are provided to users free of charge.
4. Expanded partnerships and strengthened existing ones. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah facilitated strengthening the relations with the CAREC Secretariat and with Pakistani think tanks; helped showcase and explain CAREC Institute’s work and positions during quarterly meetings with the institute’s key donors — ADB and PRC Ministry of Finance. During his tenure as Director, the CAREC Institute obtained observer statuses to the United Nations General Assembly, the World Bank/IMF, and the AIIB and further deepened meaningful cooperation with ADB, ADBI, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and UNICEF. New memorandums of understanding were signed with SDPI (Pakistan), PIDE (Pakistan), Institute of Standardization of XUAR, Shenzhen University, International Finance Forum, and Agricultural Development Bank of China. The CAREC Think Tank Network became a member of the Global Coalition of Think Tanks Networks coordinated by the UN Office of South-South Cooperation.
5. Significant engagement with CAREC member countries and contributions to CAREC platforms. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah contributed to creating a strong image and branding of the CAREC Institute despite the uneasy times of the pandemic. He regularly presented at Ministerial Conferences and Senior Officials Meetings. The CAREC Institute enhanced advocacy work in the framework of the CAREC Corridor Performance Measurement and Monitoring mechanism (CPMM) and delivered eight country-specific CPMM briefs which proved impactful in improving efficiency along CAREC corridors and border crossings.
6. Strong initiatives on ensuring the financial sustainability of the Institute through the mobilization of resources and funds. The Financial Sustainability Working Group was established with all CAREC member countries, and two rounds of discussions were held to discuss the Exploratory Assessment of the Financial Sustainability of the CAREC Institute’s Resource Mobilization Work Plan. The CAREC Institute received a new financial contribution from the Government of Pakistan. The institute also received financial support from different partners such as RKSI, IEFI, SNAI, UNICEF, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CCDA, CAAC, IsDB, and others.
7. New Institutional Strategy 2021-2025 and new Technical Assistance Agreement with ADB. Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah provided leadership in the preparation, endorsement, and implementation of the new Institutional Strategy 2021-2025, the new Technical Assistance Agreement with ADB, bi-annual Rolling Operational Plans and annual work programs, and budget frameworks.
8. Stronger corporate management. During his tenure, the CAREC Institute held regular Governing Council and Advisory Council meetings, which were co-chaired by Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah. He was instrumental in forming the CAREC Institute’s new Advisory Council. The Institute conducted a financial risk assessment, the external audits and developed an integrity and anti-fraud policy.
9. Efficient organizational management. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Syed Shakeel Shah effectively managed the transition to remote work at the institute. He has actively taken the lead in providing a good working environment for the institute’s staff. Under his leadership sound human resource, financial and internal control systems were established, and the institute revised its Human Resource and Financial Management Manuals. Staff positions increased from 34 in 2019 to 41 in 2022, and the institute’s team was solidly built with talents from its member countries.
10. Wider outreach and knowledge sharing. The Institute’s monthly e-newsletter and Quarterly Economic Monitors reached over 3,000 stakeholders and are available in Chinese, English, and Russian. The partnership with Development Asia is ongoing and as of November 1, 2022, 19 knowledge adaptations were published on the platform. The media outreach expanded to coverage of 20 CAREC Institute topics and events in around 60 media outlets in 10 countries in three languages in 2022. The Institute’s LinkedIn account saw a 39% increase in its followers as of June 2022 and continued active sharing of information with an 11% engagement rate. In addition to the official Weibo, which was created in November 2020 and has attracted over 15,000 followers, one more social media account – WeChat– was activated in the PRC.
• 19 research reports and Working papers
• 19 staff’s external publications as papers, book chapters, and books
• 10 CTTN research papers
• 9 visiting fellows’ papers
• 7 Quarterly Economic Monitors
• 11 policy briefs
• 8 economic briefs
• 9 CPMM briefs
• 56 digital learning materials in the e-learning platform
• 125,738 visits and 19,413 unique visitors in e-learning platform.