Representatives from over 60 think tanks and academic institutions, including three TTI institutions (Investigación para el Desarrollo, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, and Consortium pour la recherche économique et sociale), met in Geneva in November 2015.  Participants explored how think tanks can help accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by 197 countries in October 2015, specifically in relation to public health. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) participated due to its extensive experience supporting think tanks, especially through the Think Tank Initiative and the Southern Voice on Post-2015 SDGs.

Building on momentum from the initial Geneva meeting, IDRC and the Graduate Institute in Geneva have agreed to frame and outline a program of support to enable Southern-based think tanks to contribute effectively to public health policy processes at national, regional and global levels. The goal is to help increase the collective capacity of think tanks, especially those located in the Global South, to make progress towards achieving the health SDGs.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has also agreed to partner in this initiative by running a series of editorials on accelerating progress towards achieving the SDGs, and the role of think tanks. The first BMJ editorial piece, published in late January 2016, includes co-authors from the Graduate Institute, IDRC, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the BMJ. It provides a deeper account of this collaboration as part of a global community of think tanks and academic institutions which aim to learn from each other, and share knowledge to bring positive change in people’s health and lives.