The Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative

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The world has been transformed in ways unimaginable since the Asia Society first opened its doors more than five decades ago. Consequently, the new global realities confronting Asia and Asian leaders have also changed over time. The dominant issues today tend to be less country-specific and increasingly trans-national in nature. In the past, colonialism, independence, and self-determination were among the main topics of concern for leaders in Asia. Presently, the overriding concerns pertain to poverty, political and social conflicts, HIV/AIDS, environmental degradation, and human rights issues that have far-reaching consequences across regions. We are, therefore, in need of leaders who can bring fresh thinking and offer imaginative solutions to solve the challenges of the new century.

The Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative tries to address this new global reality by developing a critical mass of dynamic individuals, all under the age of 40, who will impact global affairs over the coming decades. As Asia undergoes rapid changes, its younger generations will shoulder greater responsibility in shaping Asia's future. Endowed with high levels of education, a wealth of ideas, and a new sense of confidence, they are already well equipped with the skills necessary for such leadership roles. Through the Asia 21 Young Leader Forum and the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit, the Young Leaders Initiative will bring together these exceptional leaders of tomorrow, who share a commitment to making the world a better place, by offering them a unique opportunity to harness that commitment collectively.

Within this Initiative, the Asia 21 Fellows class is a core group of leaders among leaders tasked to lend their expertise to a deserving organization that works in underprivileged sectors.  Fellows serve a one-year term and meet bi-annually, first at the Asia 21 Forum in the spring and then at the larger Young Leaders Summit in the fall.  Fellows remain connected throughout the year via a dedicated blog, a Fellows directory and Wiki page, and through their participation in other Asia Society conferences and projects worldwide. Select Asia 21 Fellows will also participate as speakers at the annual Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit. The work of these Fellows also provides the basis for the annual Summit.

The Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit creates an active network for emerging leaders to build relationships and engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and cultural exchange, and seeks to develop cooperative responses for addressing shared challenges.  Apart from being the major connecting portal for our young leaders, the Summit serves to promote greater public visibility for the contributions of younger leaders of diverse backgrounds and as the feeder for the Asia 21 Fellows Class.

The Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative is generously supported by Founding International Sponsor Bank of America Merrill Lynch.