Asia–Europe Foundation

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Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
Headquarters  Singapore
Type International cooperation
Partners see list
 -  Executive Director China ZHANG Yan
 -  Deputy Executive Director Germany Karsten WARNECKE
Establishment 1997

The Asia–Europe Foundation (ASEF) is an international non-profit organization based in Singapore established in 1997 by the countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Its purpose is to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the people of Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges.

In its first 15 years, ASEF has organised over 600 thematic-based projects in Asia and Europe in the form of conferences, workshops, seminars, lecture tours and online platforms.[1] It has brought together around 17,000 direct participants and is reaching out to an even wider audience in both regions.


In March 1996, the leaders of 25 Asian and European countries, together with the European Commission, met in Bangkok, Thailand, for the first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)summit. At this inaugural meeting, they agreed on the establishment of ASEF in 1997 as a central institution of ASEM's social, cultural and educational pillar.[2] One of the main tasks of ASEF was to become an interface between civil society groups and governments by facilitating interactions among people from diverse fields and transmit the resulting outputs as recommendations to policy-makers.[3]

By nature, ASEF is different from other international organisations, as it works with both ASEM governments and civil society. It works on creating sustainable networks, injects civil society inputs into the ASEM process, and enhances ASEM visibility. This unique attribute allows ASEF's activities to generate ideas and solutions that would not normally emerge from purely inter-governmental or civil society processes.

To date, ASEF is the only permanent established of the ASEM process.

Thematic Areas[edit]

ASEF focuses on the following key thematic areas: Culture, education, sustainable development, public health, economics, and governance.


1 Transcontinental country.


ASEF reports to a Board of Governors whose members are appointed by the 51 ASEM members and who meet twice a year. At its permanent office in Singapore, ASEF is composed of an Executive Office, a Finance & Administrative Department, and the following four programme departments:[4]

Political & Economic Department[edit]

Its activities contribute to policy debate and strategic thinking by providing a common platform for discussion on the areas of sustainable development and environment, economics, governance, and public health.[5]

Cultural Department[edit]

It provides young cultural professionals and artists in Asia and Europe with an environment for dialogue, evolving into positive artistic interventions, dynamic cultural networks and cultural policy development in and between the two regions. Its activities include the Asia-Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS)[1] and the web portal [2].[6]

Education Department[edit]

It seeks to strengthen youth networks, in particular among the next generation of leaders. Activities cover two main areas: educational exchanges, and cooperation and dialogues between youth and their organisations.[7]

Public affairs[edit]

It provides publicity and press support for ASEF's activities and seeks to raise public awareness of issues pertaining to Asia-Europe relations through media activities, the use of the Internet (ASEF web [3] plus the ASEM Infoboard [4]) and the publication of newsletters.[8]


ASEF is funded by voluntary contributions from its members' governments and the European Commission and shares the financing of its projects with its civil society partners across Asia and Europe.

Executive Directors[edit]

1997–2000 Singapore Tommy Koh 2000–2004 Spain Delfín Colomé 2004–2008 South Korea Wonil Cho 2008–2011 France Dominique Girard 2011–2012 France Michel Filhol 2012–2016 China Zhang Yan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - What We Do
  2. ^ ASEM InfoBoard - About ASEM
  3. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - History
  4. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - Organisation
  5. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - Intellectual Exchange
  6. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - Cultural Exchange
  7. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - People to People Exchange
  8. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - Public Affairs

External links[edit]