The world has been transformed in ways unimaginable when the Asia Society first opened its doors nearly 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 transnational 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, conflicts, HIV/AIDS, environmental degradation, and human rights, issues that have far-reaching consequences across regions. We, therefore, need leaders who can bring fresh thinking and offer imaginative solutions to solving the challenges of the new century.
In 2006, the Asia Society launched the Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative to address this new global reality by developing a critical mass of dynamic individuals 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 brings together these exceptional leaders of tomorrow who share a commitment to making the world a better place, offering them a unique opportunity to harness that commitment collectively.
The Asia 21 Fellows class is core group of young leaders representing a wide range of fields—from policy and business to the arts, media and civil society—working together to develop innovative approaches to critical global issues. The Fellows meet twice a year in the Spring at the Asia 21 Forum. The Fellows remain connected throughout the year via teleconferences, a dedicated web blog, a Fellows directory and listserv, and through participation in other Asia Society conferences and projects worldwide. Select Asia 21 Fellows also participate as speakers at the annual Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit.
The Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit creates an active network for emerging leaders under the age of 40 to build relationships, engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and cultural exchange, and seeks to develop cooperative responses for addressing shared challenges. A new group of 200 delegates are selected each year to attend the annual Summit. Apart from the Summit being the major connecting portal for our young leaders, it serves to promote greater public visibility for the contributions of younger leaders of diverse backgrounds.