Message from the Executive Director

CDRI’s ability to produce quality research for national development policy is a result of a conducive environment that attracts some of the best and brightest minds in Cambodia. In 2017, two more doctoral graduates joined our team of 30 researchers. The 34 projects implemented last year covered rice policy, youth employment, industrial development, gender in climate resilience, higher education and vocational training, good governance and medical ethics. Emphasis on collaborative research with international organisations, universities and other local research institutions guarantees the highest quality research products, while institutional development strategy to enhance research and outreach communication skills maintains the pace and quality of our research outputs and the research productivity of our staff.

The rigour that we have imposed on our financial management has led to robust financial health. Through systematic and effective implementation of our Resource Mobilisation Action Plan, new funds were obtained. This successful fund raising allowed CDRI to start new programs, including two projects related to the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. These extensive co-financed research collaborations represent our preferred approach to policy research and our research partnership model. CDRI recently organised a consultation workshop to obtain the perspectives of senior policymakers, expert practitioners and international development partners, such as UNESCO, UNDP and the NGO Forum, on CDRI’s Research Strategy 2016–21. Systematic monitoring and evaluation of program design, implementation and results ensures the relevance and fulfilment of research objectives and identifies emerging issues.

Research in the fields of agriculture, economics, education, environment, governance and health remain our priorities. However, calls on CDRI to react to emerging trends and support the evidence needs of policymakers towards Cambodia’s future economic development impel us to adjust the current research program and pursue new research directions. CDRI’s recent research on science, technology and innovation was triggered by the imperative of providing an ecosystem and policy framework to foster scientific and technological development as a tool for industrialisation, with a special interest in Industry 4.0. As such, CDRI is deeply engaged in continual consultations with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). CDRI has served as a resource pool to support the NSTC’s endeavours to design and draft national science, technology and innovation policy.

We have organised various seminars and workshops to serve as a platform for policy dialogue on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Training the right workforce remains a serious challenge, but government reforms in vocational and higher education sectors through the support of STEM education and TVET have begun to bear fruit. The general public, parents and students are beginning to recognise the value of technical skills and those who possess them. Educational institutions have made notable progress in building technology, applied sciences and engineering programs that have attracted the best students.

Another major trend that alters significantly the Cambodian economic development ecosystem is the Belt and Road Initiative led by China. CDRI has positioned itself at the forefront of strategic research in Cambodia by looking at the policy implications of this new Chinese diplomacy, and has become a privileged Cambodian counterpart of major Chinese academies and think tanks. Recently, CDRI received funding from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Cambodia to create a China Studies Centre, the first of its kind in our country.

In short, 2017 has been a productive year in all aspects. The 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index established by the University of Pennsylvania ranks CDRI in the top 50 think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific and the top 100 worldwide (non-US). These achievements would not have been possible without the professionalism and expertise of our administrative and research staff, the vision and guidance of our esteemed board of directors, and the strong support of our national and international research partners. It is with deep gratitude that I express my sincere thanks to all those whose commitment and inspiration ensure CDRI’s continued success.