The International Renaissance Foundation has been supporting independent think tanks since their inception in the 1990s. In 2014, the effort became systemic – we launched the Think Tank Development Initiative in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden. Dozens of organizations have received institutional support within the Initiative to become stronger.
Following the full-fledged military invasion, most of the think tanks have changed their profile: some examine the implications of the war, some analyze what Ukraine should look like in the future, and others are actively involved in volunteering. Every organization contributes to Ukraine’s victory.
In June 2022, with support from the Embassy of Sweden, we announced selective competition for the think tanks that have been supported by the Initiative since 2018. We are determined to preserve the think tanks, because decision-making in Ukraine shall be based on high quality assessments and forecasts. 16 out of 26 organizations have been selected by the Selection Committee and will be granted support by the end of 2022.
Sofiia Holota, the manager of the Think Tank Development Initiative, believes that the project will enable public authorities to rely on research when making decisions about reconstruction or European integration, rather than look for quick fixes. “We sought to support strong and trusted organizations that produce quality analytics. The grant provides support for research teams and research activities – mainly, salaries for team members, funding for research and, in some cases, advocacy trips to the EU”.
The Initiative also focuses on supporting university-affiliated think tanks. “The country is facing a brain drain – researchers are fleeing Ukraine en masse. It is important to find a formula to support both those who stay and those who have left Ukraine but would like to continue with Ukrainian science”, explains Sofiia Holota.
We talk about the think tanks supported by the IRF and the Embassy of Sweden and what they will do as part of our joint support project.
Think Tanks – Civil Society Organizations
Come Back Alive is the fund that provides competent support to the Army. Since 2014, its key goal is to make the Armed Forces of Ukraine more effective, preserve the lives of servicemen and servicewomen and systematically counteract the enemy. Since the full-scale invasion in February 2022, the organization has largely increased support to the Armed Forces and provides assistance to the defenders of Ukraine who have changed their usual lives and are now fighting on the frontline.
“The analytical department of Come Back Alive will conduct several studies, in particular, a general Russia-Ukraine war security study, and an analysis of war veterans, since the number of veterans is increasing and the government should find a new approach to working with veterans”, says Sofiia Holota.
The Center for Economic Strategy is a non-governmental research center focused on economic policies. Founded in May 2015, the CES is aimed at supporting reforms in Ukraine to achieve sustainable economic growth. The Center carries out an independent analysis of the most important aspects of public policies and works to strengthen public support for reforms.
“The organization quickly responds to the changing environment. They were among the first to provide analytics for the government after the full-scale invasion started. Their opinion matters”, says Sofiia Holota.
The mission of the New Europe Center is to develop analytical research and carry out project activities to promote European standards and practices in Ukraine, as well as to increase support of Ukraine’s European and Euro-Atlantic prospects among opinion leaders and officials of the EU and NATO.
“The goal of New Europe is clear: facilitating European and Euro-Atlantic integration, advocacy and communication with opinion leaders in Europe and the USA. Besides producing high-quality analytics, the organization also successfully promotes its findings among Western researchers”, explains Sofiia Holota.
Cedos is an independent think tank and community that has been working on social development since 2010. The Cedos analysts believe that everyone has the right to a decent standard of living. Therefore, the organization aims to identify systemic causes of social problems and come up with solutions.
“Cedos is one of the few organizations actively engaged in social policy analysis. Its experts are members of various governmental advisory groups, and their research will influence the national housing and social policy”, says Sofiia Holota.
The Institute of Analysis and Advocacy is a think tank engaged in conducting and disseminating research to inform effective policymaking and policy implementation and achieve sustainable results.
Although the Institute is located in Poltava, its research will cover the entire country of Ukraine. “The organization will work on the documents to introduce an electronic road waybill for both domestic and international cargo transportation with EU countries. The goal of the project is to switch from paper to digital documents, thus improving economic benefits, environmental impact and document management for business”, says Sofiia Holota.
Data Journalism Agency is an organization seeking to enhance government transparency by developing high quality journalism and data journalism, which involves analyzing large datasets and reporting insights in an interesting and easily perceptible manner. By producing big data analysis, the organization helps policymakers, officials and citizens make informed decisions.
“The Agency has always served as a think tank, mass media and civil society organization. The organization will analyze satellite data to create an interactive map of destruction and prepare analytics on the development of Ukrainian cities”, says Sofiia Holota.
DEJURE Foundation is a think and act tank created in 2016 to promote the rule of law and reforms in the justice sector in Ukraine. The organization believes that democracy in Ukraine is possible only with effective justice, the path for which lies in structural reform.
“The organization has long worked in juvenile justice. Considering that the number of orphans is, unfortunately, increasing in Ukraine under the circumstances, the organization strives to make the adoption process faster and more convenient. This is exactly what our joint project will focus on”, explains Sofiia Holota.
The team of the Institute of Legislative Ideas has been conducting an anti-corruption assessment of draft laws (before the 1st reading) for more than 5 years. This helps prevent the possibility of embedding corruption schemes into the law. Each draft law registered in the Parliament is subject to scrutiny before the first reading. This includes more than 7,000 draft laws per convocation.
“The organization cooperates with the Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Corruption Policy and the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP). Our joint project is aimed at anti-corruption monitoring of the post-war reconstruction plans and European integration initiatives”, explains Sofiia Holota.
VoxUkraine is an independent analytical platform that helps Ukraine move forward towards the future. It focuses on economics, governance, social developments and reforms. VoxUkraine works for citizens and institutions striving for systemic change; for people who trust facts and analytical approach; and for everyone who wants to live in modern Ukraine, a part of the global world.
“Vox will assess the reforms to be adopted as part of the EU integration process and further monitor implementation of the reforms concerned. It is planning an online conference and study – The Year of Reforms During War to talk about reforms, provide analysis and review of the reforms adopted in 2022 and compare policy activities and reforms of the government, the Parliament and parliamentary factions”, says Sofiia Holota.
University-Affiliated Think Tanks
ACREC, Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre, is an interdisciplinary research center under the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA). It carries out educational, research and awareness-raising activities and brings together domestic and foreign research and academic workers, PhD students, post-graduates, undergraduate students and practitioners in the field of preventing and counteracting corruption.
“The organization will continue supporting its master’s program in the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy that is focused on anti-corruption studies and will prepare analytics about the institute of whistleblowers in partnership with the NACP”, says Sofiia Holota.
The Interdisciplinary Think Tank at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is engaged in conducting interdisciplinary research on the social and economic well-being and mental health of Ukrainian population, that is in demand by society, to provide expertise and analytical support for public policy making with regards to reproduction of intellectual capital and ensuring national security.
“The think tank brings together academics from various disciplines to conduct research, and that is its strength. The organization will conduct a study on the mental health effects of war, consequences of mental health change on the economy, mental state and needs of students, as well as impacts of family separation, in particular, mental health and social wellbeing of women and mothers”, explains Sofiia Holota.
OsvitAnalityka is a think tank within the Borys Hrinchenko Kyiv University that conducts education policy analysis and proposes possible management solutions to improve the quality of education in our country.
“The organization will study the multi-subject test, which will replace the external independent evaluation, and how it will affect the course and results of the admission campaign. Another study will focus on the needs of the Department of Education and Science of the Kyiv City State Administration to ensure the smooth functioning of the Kyiv city education system under martial law”, says Sofiia Holota.
The Center of Sociological Research of the Precarpathian Region is a part of the Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University. The Center aims to develop the Ukrainian Carpathian region by synergizing the University’s expertise and resources to ensure evidence-based policy and decision making.
“The Center has produced analytics on the development of the region amidst war and has built strong cooperation with the local authorities”, says Sofiia Holota.
The School for Policy Analysis of NaUKMA is a modern think tank that is an integral part of the NaUKMA’s intellectual community. It successfully implements the latest scientific achievements in the Ukrainian analytical sector. It contributes to the development of high-quality evidence-based decisions by producing methodologically sound data analysis.
“The research focuses on war, the “Russian world” ideology narratives, and analyzing the processes in Russia and the Russian-occupied territories. The organization is also preparing a national survey to identify formats of winning the war, various aspects of post-conflict peacebuilding, post-war reconstruction, public information policy, etc.”, says Sofiia Holota.
UCU Analytical Center is an expert and research center of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Kyiv.
The Center aims at accumulating the university’s research potential and expertise and putting it into practice, i.e. developing and implementing effective public policies.
“The UCU Analytical Center has turned into a platform for intellectual discussions about the future of Ukraine, its reconstruction and expert involvement in policy making”, says Sofiia Holota.
The Center for Social Research is a university-affiliated research center and think tank operating as part of the Department of Psychology, Political Science and Socio-cultural Technologies of Sumy State University.
“Despite being close to the frontline, the Center continues its operations and even holds offline events. Back in April, the organization launched a study on economic recovery and social stability of the region amidst war. The center will carry on with the study,” says Sofiia Holota.