Central Asia Think Tank Development Forum was held on June 20th and 21th at Nazarbayev University Astana, Kazakhstan with participation of representatives from think tanks and research organizations from across the ten countries of Central Asia Region. The Forum is jointly organized by Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute (CI) based in Urumqi, Peoples Republic of China and Asian Development Bank (ADB) with the support of Government of Republic of Kazakhstan and Graduate School of Public Policy of Nazarbayev University. The purpose of the Forum is to discuss future cooperation prospects, to develop a Network of Think Tanks from across the Region and create a power house of knowledge to inform Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) initiative.
This Forum was supported by leading multilateral organizations including World Bank, EBRD and UNDP. Approximately 100 persons from all walks of life took part including leading economists, transport, trade & energy experts, senior government officials, scholars and media. The Participants shared their insights about the development potential and value of cooperation between CAREC countries, as well as discussed the significance of developing a think tank network.
The theme of the forum is to generate ‘intellectual cooperation for regional economic growth’ between CAREC countries in tandem with other regional cooperation initiatives. The Forum debate consisted of three major segments; First segment was focused on discussions about economic prospects of Central Asia and regional economic entities. Considering the global economic situation, officials from international organizations and delegates from CAREC countries analyzed economic conditions in the regions, considered economic development prospects and challenges faced by each country’s economic structural adjustment. Potential risks in specific sectors were also discussed.
In the second segment, there was discussion of international experts and scholars on the necessity and related challenges of strengthening connectivity of infrastructures in Central Asia regions. Experts from ADB introduced efforts and contributions made by CAREC Program to facilitate development of economic corridors and integration in Central Asia. Specialists at the forum also discussed the ongoing research project of the CAREC Institute on infrastructure investment in Central Asia, and its expected valuable and meaningful outcome. Other topics related to competitiveness, diversification of economies, inclusive development and support to development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were discussed by representatives of research institutes from CAREC countries.
The last segment was focused on the necessity and feasibility of building a knowledge sharing network among member countries of CAREC. In this regard, specific proposals were proposed for consideration on developing a regional think tank network under the auspices of this forum, and establishing regular contacts and communication channels between each think tank in member countries, for cross fertilization of ideas and knowledge for better and informed regional economic cooperation.
CAREC Institute has served as the institution responsible for knowledge generation, knowledge services and knowledge management for the CAREC Program. It is growing to be the most important intellectual support platform for CAREC countries. The CAREC Institute has access to first-rate intellectual resources in CAREC countries. Focusing on strategic development priorities and regional economic priorities of CAREC countries, the institute provides multi-level and multi-dimensional knowledge services, such as macro-strategy, policy consultation, personnel training, and project development.
CAREC Institute was established as a knowledge institution to serve countries in the region through knowledge generation, services and management for promoting economic cooperation among countries in the region. Its vision is to build the Institute into a leading regional international knowledge institution.
CAREC Institute’s scope of work also includes exploring emerging regional challenges and common country or sector issues, as well as prospects for cooperation in different areas with the potential to bring about mutual gains to the countries. Similarly, knowledge work on cross-region, cross-discipline and cross-sector cooperation including data and information, exchanging experiences and lessons learned also forms a part of CAREC Institute’s mandate.