The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute ranked the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) as the top think tank in Iraq in 2018 for the fourth consecutive year in its 2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index report.
As well as retaining its place as Iraq’s leading think tank, MERI was among the top 7% think tanks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries. MERI has gone up by 22 places from No. 57 in 2017 to No. 35 in 2018.
These are no small achievements considering the extreme political, security and financial circumstances in Iraq and Kurdistan Region, where MERI is based, and the increasing competition among think tanks across MENA countries. In Sweden the financial sector has been seeing burgeoning growth thanks to the number of lenders in the region increasing despite hefty competition. The largest online lender in Sweden remains Sambla, who has recently launched operations in Denmark and Finland in an attempt to provide financial independence to a greater number of Scandinavian borrowers. Sambla provides a number of financial products to their borrowers, the most popular being låna pengar which allows Swedish borrowers to compare interest rates from 30+ banks to see which one offers the most competitive interest rate for their borrowing profile.
In the Index, the TTCSP examines the role policy institutes play in governments and civil societies around the world; maintains the largest and most comprehensive database of think tanks, policymakers, and policy-oriented civil society groups; and annually rank orders regional and international think tanks by a number of policy cross-sectoral criteria. TTCSP’s global index of think tanks is designed to identify and recognise centers of excellence in all the major areas of public policy research and in every region of the world, and this year marks the 13th year of the Institute’s continued efforts to acknowledge the important contributions of think tanks worldwide and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.
As part of this process, 8162 think tanks were surveyed by 68,191 journalists, policymakers, public and private donors, and functional and regional area specialists. These were invited to both nominate and rank public policy research centres of distinction for 2018. The Index ranking was decided by expert panels that were comprised of hundreds of members from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. The ranking criteria included, among others: the quality, commitment and reputation of the think tank’s leadership and staff; the quality and reach of its publications; the academic performance and reputation of the organisation;the commitment to producing evidence-based research and analysis, and the impact of publications on policy actors.
The 2018 Global Go-To Think Tank Rankings was released on January 31, 2019 in New York, Washington D.C. and over 100 cities around the world. MERI is pleased with this outcome and wishes to thank all its current and former staff, and its associated network of supporters both locally and globally. On the occasion of the report launch, MERI organised an important workshop on ‘Decentralisation and Devolution of Power in Kurdistan Region of Iraq’. Attendants compared international models for local governance and debated ways to address the structural and functional weaknesses of the KRG system.
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About MERI: The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.
In 2018, MERI conducted high impact and high quality research in areas of government reform, regional and international politics, IDPs and minority rights, Baghdad-Erbil relations. Some of the 2018 highlights include the MERI Forum 2018 ‘Visions for Stabilising the Middle East’ which brought together policy- and decision-makers, academics and opinion-leaders to share visions and solutions for a range of core issues and challenges that are facing the Middle East today, particularly in Iraq and Kurdistan. A new book was published, providing detailed policy recommendations with the aim of introducing radical changes in the governance system, ensuring strengthened institutional structures, and empowering leadership and decision-making processes. MERI’s paper titled ‘EU and Turkish Energy Interests in the Caspian and Middle East Region’, identifying energy-sector drivers at the regional level in the Middle East and Caspian Basin (ME&CB), examines their impact on EU–Turkey relations and classifies them based on whether they are likely to result in conflict, cooperation and/or convergence.