Frequently Asked Questions


What is Asia 21?
Established in 2006, the Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative is the Asia-Pacific’s foremost young leaders’ network of diverse change-makers—under the age of 40—united by a shared commitment to making their communities and the world a better place. The Asia 21 network today is comprised of more than 900 influential individuals from a wide variety of professions, representing more than 40 countries and regions, who believe in values-based leadership and public service. Asia 21 provides a catalytic platform where young leaders form lasting relationships and enrich each other’s endeavors through mutual learning and effective collaborations. Many of the Asia 21 Young Leaders are recognized as leading figures in politics, business, arts, media, and the non-profit sector.

Nomination Process

How do I nominate someone? 
All members of the Asia 21 network may nominate candidates by visiting the nomination website and following the instructions provided. How many people can I nominate? As many as you want. Do nominees have to be from my home country? No. You may nominate anyone who meets eligibility requirements. (See “eligibility requirements” below) I do not know who nominated me! Can you tell me? We do not share this information. Nominators are welcome to inform their nominees about their nomination, but if they choose not to, we respect their decision.

Application Process

Who should apply? 
An individual who is recognized for his or her extraordinary achievement, with a proven track record of substantial leadership experience. Asia 21 network includes leaders from throughout Asia Pacific, representing diverse sectors including academia, arts & culture, business, civil society, government, law, media, public health, science & technology, and more. Successful candidates have demonstrated excellence in the field in which they are involved as well as a commitment to values-based leadership and public service. To view past classes of Asia 21 Young Leaders, click here. 

Do I have to be nominated in order to apply? 
Yes, and kindly note that Self-Nominations are NO longer accepted. Are there any eligibility requirements I should be aware of? Yes. In order to be eligible, a candidate must: 
  • Be age 40 or under (to be eligible for the nomination and selection process of the Class of 2019, the candidate must have been born on or after 1 January 1979)
  • Be a proven leader in their field. Typically, this means at least 5-10 years of outstanding professional work experience and a clear indication of playing a substantial leadership role for the rest of his or her career
  • Has a recognized record of extraordinary achievement and a proven track record of substantial leadership experience; and
  • Has demonstrated a commitment to values-based leadership and public service
  • Be fluent in spoken and written English

What materials will I need to submit when applying?
Our application is fairly straightforward. In addition to basic personal and contact information, we will ask you to submit the following: 
  • A brief personal bio
  • A ‘Statement of Interest’ explaining why you are interested in becoming a Young Leader, how would you benefit from this network, and how would the network benefit from your participation; and
  • ONE letter of recommendation

Does my letter of recommendation have to come from the person who nominated me?
No. It can come from the nominator, but it does not have to.

Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
Successful candidates are leaders in their fields, so the best recommendations come from those who can vouch for this. Often this will mean that the recommender him or herself is a recognized leader in the same field.

May I submit more than one letter of recommendation as part of my application?
No. We will only review one letter for recommendation per candidate, so please choose your recommender carefully.

What is the deadline for letters of recommendation?
Letters of recommendation must be received before the application deadline. Letters of recommendation received after the application deadline will not be accepted. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that references receive the email soliciting a letter of recommendation and submit their letters in a timely manner.

May recommenders write letters of recommendation in languages other than English?
Sorry, but we only accept letters of recommendation in English.

Is there a limit to the number of times I can apply for the initiative?
No, there is no limit. As long as you are nominated again, you may apply as many times as you wish. Please indicate the year of your previous application and the name of your nominator. This is a highly competitive initiative, and we have to turn down many qualified individuals each year, so applying again in the following years is encouraged!

Selection Process

How does the selection process work?
All applications will be reviewed by an in-house committee, which will narrow the list from hundreds to a final 50. These shortlisted candidates will then be reviewed by a separate selection committee, who will determine the final 25-30 candidates. The final 25-30 will then be approved by an Honorary Selection Committee.

Will you alert me if I am selected as a finalist, and if so, will I have to submit any additional documentation (aside from the application itself)?
We do not alert applicants of their status until the day the selection committee finalizes all decisions (see the timeline above for important dates). You will not be required to submit any additional documentation unless specifically requested by the Asia 21 team.

Does my nationality or area of work affect my chances of being chosen?
Applicants are chosen first and foremost on their merits, taking into account past accomplishments, current work, and capacity to collaborate on future projects. In selecting applicants, we do look to uphold Asia 21’s tradition of geographic, sectoral, and gender diversity, which we consider to be key to the overall success of the initiative.

How many leaders are chosen?
Typically, the incoming class is comprised of 25-30 individuals, chosen from among hundreds of applicants, though these numbers are subject to change.

Selected Awardees

What types of responsibilities are incumbent upon those chosen to become Asia 21 Young Leaders?
Selection as an Asia 21 Young Leader is not simply a form of recognition for extraordinary work; it does come with significant responsibilities in the year following selection of the new class. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consider whether they can commit to the following responsibilities before applying, as selection is contingent upon written acceptance of these commitments:
  • Attend the 2019 Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit in San Francisco, United States of America;
  • Participate in monthly teleconferences with your classmates in the time leading up to and following the Summit;
  • Agree to write three blog posts on relevant topics to be published on the Asia 21 Young Leaders News Blog;
  • Actively lead and engage in Asia 21 online activities and efforts to develop Asia 21 satellite programs in your home country; and
  • Continue to actively engage with the network on joint projects for years to come.

How long is the commitment for those accepted into Asia 21?
There is a year-long commitment to actively engage with your class of Young Leaders, including undertaking the responsibilities listed. However, we fully expect that you will continue to remain engaged with the network and with your fellow Young Leaders for years to come.

Is funding available to cover travel to the annual Asia 21 Summit?
Travel expenses for the incoming class of Asia 21 Young Leaders are covered by Asia Society to attend the 2019 Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit. However we ask those who are able to cover their own travel expenses to do so. For those most in need, we do have a limited fund for travel grants subject to funding.