Over the past decades, Asia has realized significant achievements in tackling issues of poverty. It has produced some of the most rapidly growing economies of the world, now accounting for a third of global economic output. The experience of development across Asia, while creating opportunities for some, has also spawned greater problems for many others. Home to 60% of the world's population, six out of ten Asian households today still live on an average of $2 a day. Age-old inequities continue to exist, fueling social conflicts that are destroying the social fiber of Asia and its people. Increasingly, the environment in many Asian societies is being damaged at an alarming rate, as the region pursues its drive towards economic growth.
But this is not the whole story of Asia. Over the past 50 years, the region has also produced many inspiring and successful Asian leaders, among them over 250 men and women who have been honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia's most prestigious prize and widely regarded as the region's equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Recognized precisely because of their selfless leadership in changing their societies towards equitable and sustainable development, these laureates need to engage other like-spirited leaders in dialogue on the way forward for Asia.
Bringing together the collective, on-the-ground experiences of Magsaysay laureates, leaders of business, civil society, media, academe, multilateral institutions, and international development assistance organizations will expectedly yield powerful insights on the conference themes of poverty and inequality, environmental degradation, and social conflict, and trigger partnerships for greater impact.