Asia–Europe Foundation

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Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
Logo of Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
Headquarters  Singapore
Working language English
Type Not-for-profit organization
Members 53 (see list)
• Chair, Board of Governors
Finland Ms Eva BIAUDET
• Vice-Chair, Board of Governors
Mongolia Ambassador TUMUR Lkhagvadorj
• Executive Director
Germany Ambassador Karsten WARNECKE
• Deputy Executive Director
China Mr SUN Xiangyang
Establishment 1 February 1997

The Asia–Europe Foundation (ASEF) is an intergovernmental not-for-profit organization located in Singapore. Founded in 1997, it is the only institution 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.

Together with over 125 partner organisations ASEF runs about 25-30 projects in Asia and Europe every year, mainly conferences, seminars and workshops. More than 3,000 Asians and Europeans actively participate in its activities annually and it reaches much wider audiences through its networks, web-portals, publications, exhibitions and lectures.[1]


In March 1996, the leaders of 25 Asian and European countries, together with the European Commission, met in Bangkok, Thailand, for the 1st Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit. At this inaugural meeting, they agreed on the establishment of the Asia–Europe Foundation (ASEF) in 1997 as a central institution of ASEM's social, cultural and educational pillar.[2] One of the main tasks of ASEF is to become an interface between civil society groups and governments by facilitating interactions among people from diverse fields and transmitting the resulting outputs as recommendations to policy-makers.[3]

By nature, ASEF is different from 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 permanently established institution of the ASEM process.

Thematic Areas[edit]

ASEF focuses in its work on the following 6 key thematic areas: culture, education, governance, sustainable development, economy, and public health.


ASEF promotes various forms of cultural cooperation between Asia and Europe, including policy dialogue, bi-regional networks and artistic collaborations. It fosters sustainable partnerships between Asian and European arts organisations, while also facilitating dialogue between the arts sector and government agencies responsible for culture.


ASEF has set in motion projects which contribute to education policy dialogue and facilitate youth networks. Through interdisciplinary and pragmatic approaches, as well as the integration of ICT as an essential component, ASEF’s education projects strengthen collaboration between education institutions and exchange among young people, while linking them to the ASEM Education Process and ASEM Leaders' Meetings.


Respect for human rights, rule of law, effective participation, and accountability of public institutions are some areas that lay the foundation for good governance. ASEF encourages informal, open and non-confrontational dialogue between government and civil society representatives in this field, through its current project series on human rights and public diplomacy.

Sustainable Development[edit]

Since its inception, ASEF has initiated several dialogue platforms on sustainable development and climate change issues in Asia and Europe. Reflecting priorities of the ASEM Process and needs from stakeholders at international, regional, and national levels, ASEF’s programmes in this field focus on contributing to the global debate on the 2030 Agenda and climate change policy.


ASEF addresses current economic issues and long-term trends impacting Asian and European societies in line with ASEM’s political and economic agenda concerning the international financial and economic situation across ASEM constituencies. Currently, ASEF’s work on economy focuses on the following priorities: economic policy coordination across Asia and Europe, facilitation of international trade and investment, and sustainable growth.

Public Health[edit]

The ASEM Initiative for the Rapid Containment of Pandemic Influenza was launched in 2009 by ASEM leaders to combat avian influenza and possible human influenza pandemics. ASEF’s work in the area of Public Health is designed to achieve 2 objectives of the ASEM Initiative: to create a platform for enhanced collaboration on public health issues across Asia and Europe, and to maintain a stockpile of anti-viral drugs and personal protective equipment.


ASEF's members are the 53 partners of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): 30 European countries, 21 Asian countries, and 2 regional organisations (the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat).


ASEF is funded by annual voluntary contributions from the 53 ASEM partners and shares the financing of its projects with its civil society and governmental partners across Asia and Europe.


ASEF reports to a Board of Governors whose members are appointed by each of the 53 ASEM partners and who meet twice a year. At its permanent office in Singapore, ASEF is composed of 3 program departments, a Culture Department, an Education Department, and a Political & Economic Department, as well as a Communications Department, a Finance & Administrative Department, and an Executive Office.[4]

Executive Directors[edit]

Deputy Executive Directors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) - What We Do". 
  2. ^ ASEM InfoBoard - About ASEM
  3. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - History
  4. ^ Asia-Europe Foundation - Organisation

External links[edit]