Betting on Asia's future problem-solvers with forum in Singapore

Straits Times associate editor Ravi Velloor (left) and Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg at the S. Rajaratnam Endowment Dialogue on April 26, 2022. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - This week's inaugural Asia meeting of the International Strategy Forum (ISF) in Singapore is aimed at connecting the next generation of leaders who will have to deal with some of the world's toughest problems such as climate change and pandemic preparedness, said Mr Eric Braverman, chief executive of Schmidt Futures, on Tuesday (April 26).

He said Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic initiative of former Google chairman Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy, was looking to connect leaders with "extraordinary potential".

"The primary goal is to create and sustain networks of rising leaders with extraordinary potential in geopolitics, innovation and public leadership, whose relationships will be vital to solving the world's hardest challenges," said Mr Braverman.

"By convening and connecting leaders early in their careers, we hope to play some part in strengthening connections across nations, generations, and disciplines."

The three-day inaugural ISF programme in Asia, which ends on Wednesday, is being presented by Schmidt Futures and the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

The first cohort of 25 fellows from 10 Asian countries - including India, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam - from fields such as technology, economics and policy-making are taking part in the programme. The ISF has pledged to support its leaders through networks and mentorships, with the aim of helping them solve global problems on a collaborative basis.

Tuesday's S Rajaratnam Endowment Dialogue, presented by Temasek Foundation, ISF, RSIS and The Straits Times marked the second day of the programme. Sarawak's Premier Abang Johari Openg was the guest speaker at a closed-door dialogue with ISF fellows held at The Arts House and moderated by The Straits Times associate editor Ravi Velloor.

Launched in 2020 in the United States, the ISF programme will also admit its first European cohort of fellows at June's Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria.

Referring to Singapore's former deputy prime minister, Mr Braverman said: "S Rajaratnam said that Singapore should be a democracy of deeds, not words, and this same principle underlies the (ISF) today, which is that communities must create themselves through action.

"We believe that the answers to the world's toughest problems lie in the imagination of the world's brightest minds."

The ISF's modus operandi of linking up future leaders could contribute to supporting innovation with a focus on climate change, a strategic thrust of the Temasek Foundation, said its deputy chief executive Benedict Cheong.

He said: "All of us appreciate that we need to work together and collaborate on research, technology, equipment and solutions."

Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of SPH Media Trust's English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and editor of ST welcomed the prospect of more such meetings.

He said: "When they come to Singapore, we are glad to be partners to them, be it in offering our media expertise, in moderating talks or offering our content to the fellows."

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