Social, Cultural &
Educational Pillar

ASEM aims to strengthen social, cultural and educational links between Asia and Europe. These links include people-to-people links and those formed through joint cultural, social and educational activities that involve, in particular, the youth of Asia and Europe.

Dialogue relating to society, culture and education take place at several levels. At the highest level, this occurs at the ASEM Summits, which involve heads of state. Subordinately, there are meetings such as the Culture Ministers’ MeetingsEducation Ministers’ Meetings, and Senior Officials’ Meetings in these fields. There are ASEM initiatives promoting tourism, technical vocational education and cultural festivals.


ASEM recognises the importance of cultural diplomacy as an engine for social and economic cooperation and development. An ASEM Cultural Festival has been launched to link artists and culture practitioners and promote inter-cultural dialogue. This festival has taken place alongside the ASEM Summits.

Education initiatives by ASEM partners are gathered under the ASEM Education Process (AEP). An education secretariat has been established and member states take turns hosting the secretariat. The AEP has identified digitalisation and sustainable development as themes that impact its four focus areas of quality assurance and recognition in educational standards and qualifications; engaging businesses and industry in education; balanced student mobility between Asia and Europe; and promoting lifelong learning and technical education and vocational training. The main initiatives within AEP are the ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub (ASEMLLL) and ASEM-DUO Fellowship Programme (ASEM-DUO).

In supporting the aims of Agenda 2030, ASEM’s dialogues and initiatives highlight the need for gender equality and equal opportunities through quality education, lifelong learning and social inclusion in decision-making process.

ASEM’s multilateral approach to dialogue means that it works alongside the existing and internationally recognised frameworks such as UNESCO. For example, ASEM has partnered with UNESCO to set up a rapid response mechanism for the protection of cultural heritage sites. ASEM’s dialogue and exchange in the cultural and educational fields are guided by the UNESCO Conventions and programmes concerning cultural heritage.

Inter-cultural dialogue, people-to-people links, and the championing quality education are underpinned by ASEM’s human rights approach in the cultural and educational arena. ASEM Partners continue to have dialogues for human rights promotion as part of increasing cultural understanding between Asia and Europe.

Connectivity is another issue of common interest that cuts across all ASEM Pillars. Connectivity in the social, cultural and educational fields is demonstrated through people-to-people links and dialogue, educational exchanges, joint cultural and artistic activities and scientific and technological cooperation.

  • Innovation & Technologies
    The Trans-Eurasian Information Network (TEIN) was established to create a direct link between European and Asian research and education networks and thereby build a privileged space for dialogue and cooperation.
  • Sustainable Tourism
    Developing tourism between partners is an area that ASEM has been developing since the 10th ASEM Summit (ASEM10) in 2014. Sustainable tourism also includes the conservation and management of cultural and natural heritage, the environment and its biodiversity. ASEM Partners share best practices and expertise, conduct trainings and build capacity in these areas.

Latest Ministerial Meetings Updates

The most recent 8th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMCMM8) took place in May 2018 under the theme “The Role of Culture in International Relations: the Road Forward”. “Ministers underlined promoting culture in international relations is the only way forward in our epoch, contributing to a better understanding among peoples, but also to the economic and social fabric of our societies.” Read more on the Chair’s Statement

The most recent 7th ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMME7) took place in May 2019, with the theme “Connecting Education: Inclusion, Mobility & Excellence in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals”. The forum discussed effective ways to strengthen collective action to achieve SDGs and reinforce global political commitment to education. Read more on the Chair’s Statement