Asia–Europe Foundation (ASEF)

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Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
Headquarters  Singapore
Type International cooperation
Members 53 (see list)
 •  Executive Director China Ambassador ZHANG Yan
 •  Deputy Executive Director Germany Karsten WARNECKE
Establishment 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 750 partner organisations ASEF has run about 700 projects in Asia and Europe, mainly conferences, seminars and workshops. More than 20,000 Asians and Europeans have actively participated in its activities 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 first 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, sustainable development, economics, governance, and public health.


In the field of culture, ASEF promotes various forms of cultural cooperation between Asia and. Europe including policy dialogue, bi-regional networks and artistic collaborations. In addition to fostering sustainable partnerships between Asian and European arts organizations, ASEF also facilitates dialogue between the arts sector and government agencies in Asia and Europe.


In the field of education, 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, exchange among young people and link them to the ASEM Education Process and ASEM Leaders' Meetings.

Sustainable Development[edit]

Since its inception, ASEF has initiated several dialogue platforms amongst stakeholders in Asia and. Europe on sustainable development and environmental issues. Reflecting priorities and needs from stakeholders at international, regional and national levels, ASEF's sustainable development and environment programs focus On contributing to the global debate on the post-2015 development agenda, climate change policy and practices, and other environment issues. ASEF's contribution is made through multi-national research and case study projects, consultation processes, and capacity-building and training activities.


ASEF's activities in the area of Economy address both current economic concerns and long-term trends impacting the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) constituencies. These activities connect representatives from the governments, think-tanks, academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, and international agencies to develop policy recommendations for ASEM leaders.


Respect for human rights, rule of law, effective participation and accountability of public institutions are some areas that lay the foundation for good governance. Both Asia and Europe have much to benefit from sharing information and exchanging best practices from their respective legal, judicial and political frameworks. ASEF encourages informal, open and non-confrontational dialogue between government and civil society representatives in this field, through its current programs on human rights and public diplomacy.

Public Health[edit]

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Initiative for the Rapid Containment of Pandemic Influenza was launched in 2009 by ASEM leaders to combat the Influenza A (H1N1) 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 to address public health issues across Asia and Europe, and to build up a stockpile of anti-viral drugs and personal protective equipment.


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


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 the 53 ASEM partners and who meet twice a year. At its permanent office in Singapore, ASEF is composed of an Executive Office, a Finance & Administrative Department, a Public Affairs Department, and the following 3 program departments: a Culture Department, an Education Department, and a Political & Economic Department.[4]

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

Deputy Executive Directors[edit]

1997–2000 France Pierre BARROUX 2000–2004 South Korea KIM Sung-Chul 2004–2006 Germany Hendrik KLONINGER 2006–2008 France Bertrand FORT 2008–2012 Vietnam NGUYEN Quoc Khanh 2012–2016 Germany Karsten WARNECKE

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

External links[edit]