The young leaders were joined by Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. The emerging leaders participated in numerous leadership and sustainability-focused activities in Phuket as part of the annual Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Summit, held between September 30 and October 3.
“I am inspired by the regional youth leaders who are enthusiastically tackling a key community and global issue – marine plastic pollution,” said Chargé d’Affairs Heath. “The United States is proud to support regional YSEALI representatives and the Phuket chapter of Trash Hero to make this event possible.”
The U.S. Department of State hosted the leadership summit for 150 emerging leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 from all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states and Timor-Leste. The YSEALI Summit was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and funded through the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok who organised and administered the workshop together with the Foundation for Institute of Social Enterprise Development (FINSEDT) and Future Innovative Thailand (FIT).
The aim of the summit was to enhance participants’ leadership skills and develop an agenda for action aimed at addressing the complex political, social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the citizens of Asean.
Participants visited a number of notable local projects and institutions, including the Phuket Marine Biological Center, an ecological pineapple farm and a sustainable goat farm, and engaged with the Phuket Hotel Association, which includes several American hotels, to learn how the association is working to reduce marine plastic waste.
Initially launched in 2013, YSEALI seeks to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Asean. YSEALI supports emerging young leaders in Southeast Asia by enhancing their leadership skills and providing an opportunity to learn from their peers in the region, and nurtures an Asean community of civic, economic and non-governmental leaders who can work together to solve common issues.
Previous YSEALI summits were held in Manila, Philippines (2014), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2015), Luang Prabang, Laos (2016), Manila, Philippines (2017) and Singapore (2018). Since its inception, the YSEALI network has grown to more than 142,000 members.
For more information about the summit and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, visit: asean.usmission.gov/yseali/