Complex challenges require creative approaches. It is no surprise that when you bring bright minds and young leaders from diverse backgrounds together in one room, you will often walk out with stronger, more innovative, and sustainable solutions.
Knowing this, the Advancing Long-term Leadership Initiative (ALLI): Indo-Pacific Summit held recently in Tokyo united young leaders from the Indo-Pacific region to learn new skills and collaborate on common issues facing their countries.
This past December, 43 U.S. government exchange program alumni from Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, Timor-Leste, the United States and all ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states came together for a two-day workshop focused on strengthening the Indo-Pacific identity.
The ALLI Summit was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and supported by the TOMODACHI Initiative and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).
Attended by young alumni aged between 20 and 27, it was designed to equip participants with the mindset and skills necessary to address the complex and dynamic political, social, economic, and environmental issues that the U.S. and the Indo-Pacific are facing and will continue to confront in the future.
In Japan, omiyage is a gift brought back for friends or family from a trip. The ALLI Summit honored this tradition and each of the 43 participants brought traditional snacks from their home country to share with one another. Isn’t food the best way to start conversations and form bonds among people? From what we saw at the Summit, it often can be!
Both days of the Summit began on energetic notes—one where representatives of different countries shared snacks from their regions and explained the significance to them and their country. The snacks were available for the rest of the Summit for collecting and taste-testing and gave participants a flavor of different cultures while in Japan.
There was no shortage of new and exciting things to try and take home to share.
Fostering an Indo-Pacific Identity
Today, it’s easier than ever before to connect, learn, and share information across borders.
While communications technologies increase access and the ability for people to collaborate, there are still few substitutes for the experience of bringing people together in person to meet, exchange ideas, and collaborate together.
At the Summit, participants were divided into multinational teams of four, each team representing a different country, to ensure a diversity in collaboration. Each team was led by one of 11 facilitators, who contributed thought leadership through workshops and activities over the course of the two-day event.
The teams had the opportunity to get know one another before convening in Tokyo through a four-week virtual program, which helped to ensure they could hit the ground running as they worked together to develop and present action plans around the theme of the growing Indo-Pacific identity—ranging from the podcasts to a regional speaker series.
Only through a pattern of international cooperation can the challenges we face as a global society be successfully addressed.
The ALLI Summit provided young leaders with a glimpse into the power of collaboration. It gave them a platform to share their ideas and to seek mentorship and guidance to make their ideas a reality.
The 43 exchange alumni headed home with them an expanded network of contacts from more than 15 different countries that they can call upon in the months and years ahead. They will now have the opportunity to receive seed funding to implement their action plans or develop new ideas that emerged from the Summit.
These two days in Tokyo will hopefully be just the first steps toward forging an Indo-Pacific identity that is poised to strengthen the region for years to come.