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Conference 2021

The Future of Asia-Europe Relations in the Post Covid-19 World

This special publication contains a collection of the best policy briefs presented at STEAR's Annual Conference, which took place in early November. It represents the insights on salient policy issues from students and young professionals all across the globe, with topics ranging from education to digitalization, from economics to environment. This Policy Brief issue also contains the articles that summarize the proceedings of the Conference, aimed at those who might be interested in applying to be a delegate for next year's edition. It thereby presents a thorough yet accessible look into STEAR's Annual Conference and the pillars that it is built on: cross-cultural collaboration, youth engagement, and mutual understanding. Scroll through the most recent journal edition below or download it here!

Conference Policy Briefs
Key Information
  • Title: The Future of Asia-Europe Relations in the Post Covid-19 World

  • Date: November 6 - 7, 2021

  • Participants: 40 students and young professionals (18-30 years old)

  • Location: Zoom

  • Timeline: 

    • 1 August: Applications open

    • 05 September: Applications close

    • 12 September: Application results published

    • 18 September - 16 October: Pre-conference policy-making workshops

    • 6 - 7 November: Virtual conference

    • November - December: Post-conference activities

    • January: Collection of the delegates' policy recommendations published

  • Fees: None

Speakers and Panelists
Toru Morikawa

Toru Morikawa

Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Foundation

Toru Morikawa is the 8th Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Foundation, and a seasoned Japanese Career Diplomat. His previous postings include serving as the Deputy Head of Mission at the Japanese Embassy in Iran and Minister-Counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in France, where he was in charge of various cultural exchange initiatives. He has also worked in the areas of Media and Regional Economic Cooperation and has experience in cultivating and enhancing partnerships for projects with different organisations including the private sector.

Mr Sumi

Chikahisa Sumi

Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, IMF

Chikahisa Sumi was appointed as the Director of Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (OAP), International Monetary Fund in 2016. He has worked on Asia and the Pacific countries for seven years in the IMF, including leading missions to the Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand and Fiji. He also headed the Financial Sector Surveillance Group of the Asia and Pacific Department, and led the Future of Asia’s Finance project, including the publication of “The Future of Asian Finance” book in 2015. Before returning to the IMF, Mr. Sumi held key positions in the Japanese Government, including Deputy Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs, and Deputy Commissioner of the Financial Services Agency. He also headed Japan’s Debt Management Office, and acquired many friends among financial market participants through intensive dialogue with them. Born in Osaka, Japan, Chikahisa holds a LLB from the University of Tokyo (1982) and an MBA from Harvard University (1986), where his friends started to call him Chuck. Married, one daughter, and enjoys various types of fishing.

Bert Hofman

Bert Hofman

Director of the East Asian Institute and former East Asia and Pacific Chief Economist at the World Bank

Mr. Bert Hofman, a Dutch national, is the director of the East Asian Institute and Professor of Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School at the National University of Singapore.  Before joining NUS in 2019, he worked with the World Bank for 27 years, 22 of which in Asia, and 12 of which on China.  Mr. Hofman was the World Bank Country Director for China 2014-2019, the country economist for China 2004-2008, and the Chief Economist for the World Bank in East Asia and Pacific 2011-2014. He also worked on Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Mongolia, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, the Former Soviet Union, and Brazil. Before coming to the World Bank, Mr. Hofman worked at the Kiel Institute of World Economics, The OECD and NMB Bank (Now ING).  Mr. Hofman has extensive experience in advising governments on a wide range of development issues, and he has published on fiscal policy, decentralization, debt issues, and China’s and Indonesia’s economic history.   

DRIESMANS Igor Official

Igor Driesmans

EU Ambassador to ASEAN

HE Igor Driesmans has served as the EU Ambassador to ASEAN since 2019. He was previously a Member of the Cabinet of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. His responsibilities included Asia and Pacific, Cultural Diplomacy, Transport and Fisheries. He previously served as Principal Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service (2014), Desk Officer for ASEAN (2013-2014), and Deputy Head of the Political, Economic, Trade and Information Section of the EU Delegation to South Africa (2009-2013). Ambassador Igor Driesmans has been an official of the EU since 2003. He holds a Masters in History from University of Gent (Belgium).


Dr. Katharina Heil

Immediate Past President of the Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association (EMA)

Dr. Katharina Heil is the immediate past President of the Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association, a network of students and alumni currently counting 12,000+ members across 170+ countries. As an Erasmus Mundus Scholar, Dr. Katharina Heil completed her PhD, in 2017 from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and KTH, Stockholm, Sweden. She currently works as Communities Coordinator at the European Life-Science Infrastructure ELIXIR. As such she coordinates and guides efforts across researchers in the life-science field with a specific focus on all aspects of data. During her presidency at EMA, she brought the student community closer together and moved the association further towards being self-sustainable. She is now representing EMA in the GO-DIJIP project, a Key Action 2 project focusing on Integrating Digital Collaborative Environments into Joint Programmes. 

Edward Lim

Edward Lim

Policy Analyst, Singapore Ministry of Finance

Edward is a policy analyst with the Singapore Ministry of Finance. He oversees the financing of the Government’s tech and cybersecurity capabilities. Edward is also part of the secretariat supporting the Ministerial Taskforce on COVID-19, and had written parliamentary speeches for his Minister. Outside of work, Edward founded a community group called “Project: It’ll Be Alright”, which aims to tackle youth mental health issues. During his university days, Edward was elected twice as the President of the Nanyang Technological University's students’ union, he championed hiring beyond academic results, and initiated a student project called "The First Step" with corporate C-suites and political leaders, to help students get a head start at their careers. Edward is an alumnus of Asia-Europe Foundation, where he chaired the 9th Model ASEM in Madrid. He holds a B.Eng. Mechanical Engineering with a Second Major in Business Analytics from Nanyang Technological University.


Hayley Winchcombe

Chair of the Board of the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP)

Hayley Winchcombe currently serves as the Chair of the Board of the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership (AASYP), a registered charity advocating for stronger ties between Australia and our Southeast Asian neighbours. Besides her involvement in AASYP, she is also an economics, policy and business strategy consultant with Accenture Strategy. She has a big interest in solvable problems, applying data analysis to identify underlying issues and recommending business strategy or policy options.

Hayley’s academic research focused on the labour migration-development nexus and included time as the inaugural Australian Government New Colombo Plan ASEAN Fellow. Previously she was teaching staff for the Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) core unit Global Challenges, Research and Leadership. Hayley graduated with First Class Honours from the BPhil at UWA as a Fogarty Scholar. She has lived in France, Spain, Singapore and Indonesia.

Michael Yip.

Michael Yip

Co-Head of London Chapter, Young China Watchers 

Michael Yip FRSA heads the Young China Watchers in London, a voluntary organisation that promotes youth engagement and exchange on China’s growing global impact. He is also a Research Associate at the University of Oxford and Yenching Scholar at Peking University, where he researches how Western legal systems are shaping and being shaped by the Belt and Road Initiative. Previously, Michael was a British civil servant during Brexit and COVID-19. In that capacity, he covered portfolios relating to international trade, infrastructure and finance.

Zhang Lirong

Zhang Lirong

Secretary-General and Board Member of China Forum, Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua

Secretary-General and board member of China Forum. He used to be a career diplomat. He worked in European Department and Information Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and was once secretary to the Vice Foreign Minister in charge of Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He also worked for years in the Central Foreign Affairs Commission as well as Foreign Affairs Office of Jiangsu Province as Deputy Director-General. He was posted to the Chinese Embassy in Denmark, the United Kingdom and then the Chinese Mission to the European Union as Deputy Head of Mission and Minister.


Dr. Asma Abdullah

Intercultural Specialist

Dr Asma Abdullah is an intercultural specialist who has worked with both private and public sector organizations, professional associations, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations. She specializes in cross cultural management, intercultural communication, organization development, corporate culture and cultural relocation strategies for organizations and management executives. She is familiar with the issues and challenges among foreign and local managers when they work across cultures. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Anthropology and Diploma in Education from Monash University Melbourne, Australia, Master of Science in Educational Technology from University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Master of Arts in Counseling from University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur and a doctoral degree in Social Anthropology from National University Malaysia, Bangi, Malaysia. She is also a certified coach and trainer on topics related to women and work life integration.

Yingying Li

Yingying Li

Founder & CEO of Yingfluence, Inc

Host of How China Works Podcast, Board Member of EU Tech Chamber China Chapter

Guest Lecturer /Speaker/Consultant on Cross-cultural Communication/Leadership for Global Talent and “East Meets West” Innovation & Collaboration.

Help the World Become China Smart & Chinese Go global; Bridge Gaps Between AI & Human Intelligence


Shada Islam

Senior Advisor at the European Policy Centre

Shada Islam is a respected and well-known Brussels-based commentator on the European Union who runs her own Brussels-based global media, strategy and advisory company, New Horizons Project. Before that, Shada worked for nine years as Director of Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe, an influential independent think tank based in Brussels.

Shada is currently Senior Advisor at the European Policy Centre as well as Non-Resident Fellow at the Centre for Global Development. Shada is also a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin) and a Solvay Fellow at the Vrije University Brussel (VUB).

In 2017, Shada was selected as one of the 20 most influential women in Brussels by the magazine Politico.


Dr. Kirida Bhaopichitr

Research Director for International Economics and Development at Thailand Development Research Institute

Dr. Kirida joined the TDRI, a leading independent think tank in Thailand, in 2015. She is currently the Director of TDRI Economic Intelligence Service which is TDRI’s corporate membership program. Her specialization spans monitoring and analyzing developments of the global and Thai economies which includes the business environment, impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, demographic changes, and technological development issues. Dr. Kirida is also currently an independent director on the Government Housing Bank board and on the Khon Kaen University Council. Dr. Kirida’s work on Thailand includes monitoring and assessing economic developments, investment climate, competitiveness, impact of the 2011 floods, and the reforms in the public sector. Dr. Kirida was the main author of the World Bank’s bi-annual Thailand Economic Monitor (2003-2015), the most downloaded and widely cited World Bank publication on Thailand. Dr. Kirida holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell University (USA).


Sir Mark Moody Stuart

Chairman of the Global Compact Foundation

Mark Moody-Stuart is Chairman of the Global Compact Foundation, and a director of Saudi Aramco. He was Chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group 1998- 2001, of Anglo American plc 2002-09, Hermes Equity Ownership Services and Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC). After a doctorate in geology, he worked for Shell living in Holland, Spain, Oman, Brunei, Australia, Nigeria, Turkey and Malaysia, and the UK. Additionally, he is the former director of Accenture and HSBC, amd he acted as Chairman of the FTSE ESG Advisory Committee 2014-19. He is the Honorary Co-Chairman of the International Tax and Investment Center,  and author of “Responsible Leadership – Lessons from the front line of sustainability and ethics”.

Mr. Kaim

Vladislav Kaim

UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisor on Climate Change

Vladislav Kaim is a young economist committed to ensuring green and decent jobs for youth, and he brings deep expertise in international trade and migration.


Nadja Yang

President of European Young Engineers, Rhodes Scholar

Nadja is a PhD student in Systems Engineering at the University of Oxford, where she focuses on sustainable system transformations in the circular bioeconomy and food sector. Trained as a chemical engineer at the Technical University of Munich and Tsinghua University, Nadja serves as the Vice President of Public Policy at the NGO European Young Engineers, which represents more than 350,000 young engineers. Moreover, she was an executive board member of Studierendenforum im Tönissteiner Kreis, a student forum that brings together internationally minded young people to foster projects in the fields of diplomacy, politics, education, skill building and international exchange. As the first German-Chinese Rhodes Scholar (as far as known), Nadja is deeply rooted in both cultures and beyond. She speaks Mandarin, German and English fluently with basic knowledge in Portuguese, Japanese, French and Latin.

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