Latin American Think Tank Summit in Argentina

9 November 2015

[Editor’s note: This post has been written by Victoria Amato, CIPPEC Coordinator of the III Latin American Think Tank Summit]

The next Latin American Think Tank Summit is beginning to take shape. Under the leadership of CIPPEC and with the support of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI) and the University of Pennsylvania, arrangements are underway to welcome more than 30 think tanks from the region to arrive to Buenos Aires next week.

The Summit is an initiative that aspires to become “a must go” event for think tanks in the region that want to enrich from the regional debate and the peer-to-peer experience exchange. The first two editions were held in 2013 and 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and were organized by FGV and Upenn. In 2015 CIPPEC joined as a key partner and host of the III Latin American Think Tank Summit to be held November 11-13 in the city of Buenos Aires.

The goal has not changed. Once a year, think tanks from Latin America get together during a two-day program to analyze the main challenges they face to bring evidence and knowledge to their local public policy agendas. Besides from continuing the tradition [which CIPPEC started over a decade ago], the meeting will serve as an opportunity to strengthen cooperation ties among peer institutions thus, empowering the Latin American think tank community eager to improve the relationship between applied research and policy incidence capacity.

Close to 50 Latin American think tanks under a participatory and horizontal format, will discuss their own program agendas while enriching from the analysis of expert regional panelists and distinguished international observers. The event will encourage spaces of mutual learning, opportunities for peer technical assistance and rigorous and comparative analysis of similar experiences of think tanks in their research processes for incidence. Prior to the main regional event, CIPPEC will also host a local debate for Argentine think tanks with the purpose to foster a dialogue about national policy issues.

Focusing on issues

Discussions will take place in the midst of: a changing and uncertain geopolitical scenario, the year of the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, and on the eve of ongoing major electoral processes in several countries of Latin America and the domino effect in the rest of the region.

Current Latin American geopolitical scenarios will undoubtedly stir up the debate. Brazil is facing its most serious political and economic crisis in its history, whose ultimate consequences are not yet clear but have for sure raised the concern of the regional community over the last few months; and will continue to focus their attention as they follow the way the Latin American giant copes with the storm and hope that the Brazil finds an orderly exit to the crisis. Within this theme, another point to analyze is how the crisis affects or may affect Brazil’s place in the group of emerging economies of the BRICS and its side effect on rest of regional economies. Another major geopolitical issue expected to get the interest of participants is the nascent restored bilateral relationships between Cuba and US and the recovery of diplomatic ties between both countries. On this topic, we expect to count with the analysis of international thinktankers who closely followed this historical process. Lastly, in spite of the Chinese Yen devaluation, discussions will also include the advance of trade commercial agreements between China and Latin America and its impact on economic development of the region.

2015 is also the deadline year for the eight Millennium Development Goals. Dialogue will also touch on the challenges faced to improve regional inequality levels. The Summit will also represent an opportunity for the Latin American think tanks to present and to discuss the most recent research on social and economic indicators, to identify new strategies in light of the new agenda for sustainable development consisting of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals.

Another topic of high relevance to the Think Tank Summit involves the strengths and weaknesses of regional governments in designing, implementing and monitoring effective and quality public policies for the people of Latin American.

There will be panels about other interesting themes such as: Possibilities and limits of cooperation between the media and think tanks in the dissemination of public policies research; the youth in the construction of knowledge and its link to development in the region; current electoral processes in the region, among others.

There will be time as well for insights and debates about the ongoing presidential elections in Argentina and Guatemala, the outcome of legislative elections in El Salvador and Mexico and the upcoming legislative elections on Venezuela next December.

Focusing on think tanks

Another major goal of the Summit aims at consolidating a process of South-South cooperation, and which encompasses the institutional strengthening of the Latin American think tank community through the study of best practices, lessons learned and collaborative exchange. Among other issues to be discussed are: how are public policies linking up with new technologies?; the role of evidence in communication; and the challenge to develop new platforms for applied research and other innovative knowledge integration practices.

As the agenda is being finalised and participants continue to confirm their attendance, CIPPEC sharpens up details and final arrangements for the most significant regional event, hoping that it will represent an opportunity for think tanks to strengthen institutional alliances among peers and to positively impact the national development agendas of Latin America.