Asian Security Initiative
May, 2009

On the 29th of May, the Asia Security Initiative was launched in Singapore by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. The initiative brings together 27 institutions from around the world to address a wide range of security challenges — from competition over natural resources to tensions with North Korea that threaten peace and prosperity in the region. Strategic Foresight Group is proud to be a member of this new initiative.

The initiative was launched at the end of a two day workshop hosted by the Rajaratnam School of International Studies that aimed to acquaint the members of the network with each other, their projects supported by the MacArthur Foundation and to identify possible areas of cooperation between institutions.

MacArthur’s initial grant making focuses on three particularly critical security issues: strengthening regional cooperation, preventing conflict in Northeast Asia, and building international cooperation to respond to internal challenges. A leading Asian institution will coordinate the work of each of the three groups:

China’s Peking University Center for International and Strategic Studies will oversee the regional security cooperation group, advising policymakers on how to make better use of multilateral institutions, bilateral relationships, and alliances to prevent conflict, manage differences, and foster peace and security.

Korea’s East Asia Institute will coordinate work on Northeast Asia, developing plans for international cooperation to decrease tensions over North Korea and Taiwan and among Northeast Asian nations.

Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies will direct the internal challenges group, which will concentrate on the need for international cooperation to help manage emerging transnational challenges, from competition over energy sources to the cross-border effects of domestic political instability. SFGs project on challenges of water stress and climate change in the Himalayan River Basins is part of this cluster and the project benefited tremendously from the discussions held at the workshop.

At the launch of the initiative, MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton said, “The growing economic and political power of Asia is transforming the globe. Over the coming decades, the Asia-Pacific will be the world’s economic engine, helping millions in the region to find new prosperity. Yet, in this time of great opportunity, security challenges — from power conflicts to resource scarcity — threaten to undo the region’s many gains. As China, India, and other Asian nations become regional and global powers, Asia-Pacific nations must think anew about how our societies can work together to foster peace and prevent conflict.”