The Central American region includes 7 countries and 43 million inhabitants. The region is highly unequal both across and between countries. Whereas Costa Rica and Panama present a high human development index, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua have the largest percentage of the population living in poverty, including high maternal and child mortality. The north triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua) is also affected by endemic violence and crime. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are both an opportunity to close the gaps that remain from the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and also to advance towards a comprehensive framework for social and economic development that is both equitable and sustainable. Think tanks can play several roles such as (a) proposing the technical design of policies (b) analyzing data and producing independent evidence related to performance of public services, impact of fiscal policies and accountability (c) facilitating the engagement of all relevant actors at national, regional and local level. However, to complement their specific expertise, promote organizational learning and overcome the challenge of financing activities, think tanks must organize themselves as networks.
Walter Flores is the Executive Director of the Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en los Sistemas de Salud, Guatemala