July 12, 2016
The 4th Asia Think Tank Summit (ATTS) was held at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul, Korea, on June 8-10. The summit addresses the role of think tanks in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Naohiro Kitano, director of JICA Research Institute (JICA-RI), presented JICA-RI's latest research project on transformative innovation.
The first ATTS took place in Tokyo in 2013, and the summit has been held annually ever since. This year's theme was "Sustainable Development Goals in the Asian Landscape: Think Tanks as Catalysts for Policy Analyses and Implementation." The summit was co-hosted and attended by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), the Korea Development Institute (KDI), the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania. Over 100 researchers attended from 27 different countries to discuss Asia's issues in achieving the SDGs and the role of think tanks in this objective.
Kitano spoke at a session on June 10 entitled "The Think Tank Innovations and the Implementation of the SDGs". His presentation focused on recent findings from the project on Transformative Innovation for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction, a joint research between JICA-RI and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Innovation is stated in the 2030 Agenda as Goal 9. He emphasized the importance of transformative innovation or system-level innovation, and introduced Fabrication Laboratories or Fab Labs as a case study of innovation ecosystems. Fab Labs are open digital workshops for citizens, outfitted with tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters. There are currently over 600 Fab Labs around the world. As a specific example, Kitano referred to a Fab Lab in Bohol, Philippines, which was established with a support from Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV) and currently offers an opportunity of innovation for local entrepreneurs. Kitano then spoke of the Goal 11 of the SDGs regarding sustainable cities and communities. He talked about the concept of smart cities and introduced a case study in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.
Kitano said, "The Asia Think Tank Summit offers an opportunity to exchange views and ideas with other think tanks in Asia, and this year was no exception. I will continue to actively attend in the future."