Asia Society’s Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Initiative (AYLI 21) is a non‐partisan and non‐political group of young Afghans who have come together and, in their words, “who share common values and beliefs to address the social economic and political issues in Afghanistan.”
11/6/2012: Afghanistan Young Leaders Forum – Kabul, Afghanistan
The Global Leadership Initiatives department at the Asia Society is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the second annual Afghan Young Leaders Forum at the Safi Landmark Hotel and Suites in Kabul, Afghanistan. Starting with the opening night’s dinner on October 31, the Forum focused on leadership challenges faced by Afghanistan’s younger generation of leaders, the critical issues facing the country today, and the fellows’ role in addressing those challenges, among other pertinent issues. Asia Society’s Global Council member from Afghanistan and former Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah attended the opening dinner and shared his thoughts on youth leadership.
“The Asia Society is dedicated to working together with young leaders in Afghanistan toward a better future,” said Michael G. Kulma, Asia Society’s Executive Director of Global Leadership Initiatives. “Moving into our second year of the initiative, we are proud of our first year accomplishments and look forward to building out our collective impact.”
Established in 2011, the Afghanistan Young Leaders Initiative seeks to nurture a community of next generation Afghan leaders who will educate each other and expand the Afghan dialogue on leadership issues in the hope of facilitating a pipeline of civic-minded next generation leadership in Afghanistan.
The 2012 Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Forum was held at the Safi Landmark Hotel & Suites in Kabul, Afghanistan from October 31 – November 2.
10/31/2012: The Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Initiative has now begun
The AYLI 21 Forum is being held at the Safi Landmark Hotel & Suites in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Forum is ongoing until November 2, 2012.
7/3/2012: AYLI Leaders Take Position on Afghanistan’s Future
AYLI 21 has prepared a position paper for presentation at the Tokyo Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo on July 8, 2012. The conference brings together the Afghan government, international donors and civil society to set the framework for future assistance to the Afghan state.
The group, part of Asia Society’s broader Asia-wide young leader initiative called Asia 21, feels that there is a disconnect between their government’s development strategies and its translation into action. As such, the AYLI21 initiative wishes to impress upon the Tokyo Conference the importance of convincing ordinary Afghans how this conference is different from its predecessors.
The Afghan Young Leaders Initiative presents the following recommendations to the participants of the Tokyo Conference:
- With the completion of the 2014 Transition process in sight, the Government’s self-reliance road map should focus on the realities of government capacities for spending and proper management of projects and the international community’s disbursement of financial commitments. The government’s economic transition plan cannot be achieved if those realities are not met and mutually agreed upon at the Tokyo Conference.
- We believe that the key economic drivers of Afghanistan lie within the country’s abundant agriculture, natural resources, water management, mining, trade and transport opportunities; therefore, there should be a specific focus to revive these sectors economic vitality in order to guarantee the country’s sustainable development.
- The Government self-reliance road map should provide clear investment opportunities by providing a consistent and adaptive enabling environment for local and foreign investors that should be builton the experience of the past decade.
- While a coherent plan for implementation is not visible within the Afghan government’s documents, for effective results, Afghans should not remain the victim of a duplication of efforts; moreover, the government should eliminate parallel structures within the existing government structure as well as aid delivery institutions.
- Building upon a cohesive planning process by government, donors should provide long-term funding commitments, soft conditionality, and adhere to strictly a practical aid management policy.
- Aid does not cause development; therefore, the government should build the necessary infrastructure and institutions during the Transformation Decade in order to align itself to long-termand concessional loans.
- Delivery of services at the sub-national level in a balanced and prioritized way, to boost confidence building and peace-building process, must find itself on top priority of government, with donors directly contributing to it.
- To tackle growing corruption, specific measures and benchmarks should be laid out both for government and the international community to undertake; that would not necessarily create additional institutions and mechanisms as has been witnessed, but to make the current institutions and mechanisms work better with the support of a strong political will.
- It must be noted that ignoring regional political and security factors would adversely affect our economic relations in the region and lower our potentials of economic benefits. Any disconnect with regional partners has the potential of generating an imbalance in our regional diplomatic relations,with which our nation’s security and stability are so intricately connected. Therefore, attaining a comprehensive approach towards improving the country’s regional economic cooperation is of immense importance.
- Afghanistan’s rapid population growth rate of 2.8% and demographic pressures are issues of concern, especially in light of existing security and socio-economic challenges. A national census is non-existent and the population is estimated to increase to 82 million by 2050. A long-term strategy to balance population vs. sustainable socio-economic growth is required today.
- Afghanistan has seen various large-scale international conferences, which produced ambitious visions on paper yet rarely followed-up in practice. We strongly suggest that a proper follow-upmechanism be established to ensure the promises delivered upon from both the Afghan Government and its international development partners.
- The Government of Afghanistan should identify a unified and formal process of planning that is visionary, results-oriented, evidence-based, and practical in response to the needs and capacities of the country. We would like to reiterate the establishment of an Economic Planning Commission as a national overarching policy and planning institution that would not be ministry-driven. The Commission should enable the government to provide leadership of the planning process and to take ownership of all planning efforts. The Economic Planning Commission should serve as a policy and strategic think tank for the President and his or her cabinet.
Download the Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Tokyo position paper:
12/5/2011: Asia Society’s Young Afghan Leaders Make Case at Bonn Afghanistan Conference
Young Afghans who are part of Asia Society’s Afghanistan Young Leaders Initiative (AYLI) submitted a report on key issues facing their country, and strategies to solve them, to the Afghanistan International Conference convening in Bonn this week.
Titled Afghan Youth Vision 2014 and Beyond, the report prepared by AYLI was presented as a list of recommendations to the participants at the Bonn Conference, where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were in attendance.
Based on the 2014 transition process — the timeline for American troops to withdraw from Afghanistan — the paper takes note of the need for a proper functioning bureaucracy and administrative policy in the country.
The Afghan youth leaders, including 26-year-old Tamim Asey, a senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, were selected as part of the annual Asia21 Young Leaders Forum for 2011, a core network of leaders from diverse professional backgrounds who are tasked to serve one-year terms in which they focus on pre-selected core issues and ways to address critical challenges.
The two-page report highlights some of the most pressing issues confronting Afghanistan at the moment, such as the need for a sound economic model, population growth control, energy creation and key concerns regarding law and security, including:
- The need for the development of an economic model in compliance with the economic transition plan and effectively utilizing natural resources.
- A long-term strategy to balance population vs. socio-economic growth and population growth control measures.
- Investment in agriculture, mining, energy and infrastructure to ensure economic stability.
- Taking special note of regional relationships and security factors.
- Establishment of an Economic Planning Commission to serve as a policy and strategic think tank to the government.
- Development of the private sector.
Download the Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Bonn position paper: