Think tanks and policy research institutes are organisations that conduct research and provide recommendations for better public policies. Those of us who work in think tanks support our ideas with academically rigorous evidence, addressing significant social issues such as education, health, security, and the environment, among many others. Our work the Group for Analysis of Development (GRADE) is driven by the desire to contribute to overcoming the serious problems that developing countries face–lack of equal opportunities, difficult living conditions for the majority of the population, weak institutions, and insufficient economic growth.
Through different dissemination activities, we try to build bridges between academic research and the public sector and civil society, sharing our findings not only with policy makers, but also with those potentially or actually affected by the policies. In line with the international trend to further evidence-based policies,we seek to support the consolidation of a community of researchers and policymakers, who come from diverse disciplines, perspectives and ideological positions, but who are nonetheless capable of discussing research findings and their policy implications. We believe that pluralism is an essential attribute of the community of think tanks in democratic societies. However, developing countries typically lack strong communities of this sort. This is the case of Peru, where there are not enough think tanks and, in addition, their role is poorly understood.
In order to develop a pluralistic community, initiatives such as Premio PODER play an important role. The annual PODER Think Tank of the Year Awards is a remarkable opportunity to both highlight the role that these organisations play in policy making and implementation and to make public opinion aware of this. It is important to stress the role that Revista PODER, a monthly media publication and one of the organisers of the awards, plays as an intermediary between think tanks and citizens. OTT provides the technical expertise to make this venture possible.
The positive economic growth and performance during the last decade has made it possible, both in Peru and in Latin America, to allocate additional resources to development policies. However, resources are still limited. Governments need more innovation to ensure quality. Empirical research can inform the process of policy making to achieve better use of resources. Over the years we have learned that good intentions often do not translate into significant and lasting impacts. Think tanks should be considered allies for understanding what works and what not in public policy.
In October 2016 we, GRADE, received two awards: best Peruvian think tank and best Peruvian think tank in social policy. It was quite an honor. We have been working for more than 36 years to get ideas based on independent and solid empirical research into the public debate. Our goal is to generate more relevant and more effective policies for the different development problems of the country and the region. We are pleased to be part of this initiative and we hope it continues to further its mission of highlighting the contributions of these institutes for building better policies and, indeed, better lives.