FES in Asia, achievements and aspirations

At the turn of the year we summarize past highlights to celebrate and aspirations for the year ahead in the work with partners and friends by FES in Asia.

Did you know that Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has 16 offices in 15 countries across Asia and the Pacific? Almost 100 FES staff based in Asia support work by hundreds more partners in over 18 countries from the region!

At the turn of the year, in a joint effort with colleagues in country offices in Asia, we fly you over the region to bring past highlights to celebrate and aspirations—to organize and stand for— in the year ahead. Together with partners and friends, FES teams from 16 FES offices across Asia will continue to #Stand4JustAsia and #Act4SocialJustice in 2018.

Photos by Amanda Mustard, Samsul Helal, Giulia Marchi, Dave Tacon, Jun Michael Park, and Binh Dang. 

"We are proud to have been able to work with our Afghan friends and partners for the benefit of the country and wider region in a challenging environment. In 2018, we will continue promoting dialogue on peace and security, advance social justice, support young leaders and raise awareness of issues related to migration and refugees."

Mirco Günther, Director, FES Afghanistan

"Bangladesh is a young and rising country and became recently a lower middle-income country. FES engages in this process with a strong focus on labour and social partnership, sustainable development and international cooperation. In 2017, FES Bangladesh in cooperation with its partners opened the first Academy of Work, an academic training programme for mid-level trade unionists from various sectors. We look forward to continue this work in 2018."

Franziska Korn, Director, FES Bangladesh


"FES Beijing was proud to be engaged in a joint research project on the relationship between social security and economic development with the Chinese Association on Social Security Research and the International Labour Organization.

In the past 18 months, the three institutions have successfully carried out two international conferences with renowned international experts in China. A comprehensive and comparative report with a special focus on China will be published early 2018, to support the further development of the social security system in the country, by providing policy recommendations in line with a basic assumption of appositive relationship of social security and economic development."

Christoph Pohlmann, Director, FES Beijing

"In a deep examination of the current challenges of and backlash against globalization, through our work from Shanghai, we shed light on the way forward, identifying new approaches to tackle these trials. Together with Chinese decision-makers and academic experts, we focussed particularly on China’s position and how it can lay a constructive role in a multipolar world.

In 2018, we will continue to rethink globalization and, together with our partners in China, to address concerns about fairness, access, economic security, and social equity."

Stefan Pantekoek, Director, FES Shanghai

"In 2017, our office created an atmosphere of curiosity that helped us to un-box our own thinking and triggered new ideas for change.

Looking forward, we will create a new vision for labour and the value of work in the 21st century."

Patrick Ruether, Director, FES India

"In 2017, we introduced the Labour 4.0 discussion to Indonesia by organizing a large conference bringing together different government stake holders, trade unions, employers’ associations, businesspersons and academics. In 2018, we’ll celebrate 50 years since our office establishment. Moving forward, we hope to institutionalize cooperation with political parties on a country level."

Sergio Grassi, Director, FES Indonesia

"We co-hosted an international conference on Work 4.0 and Industry 4.0 with the Korea Labor Institute in Seoul, at the beginning of April 2017. The conference was the first major public event addressing labour related issues of Digitalisation in South Korea. Based on expert contribution about Germany’s debate on Work 4.0, participants had the opportunity to open a discussion about the necessity of a broad societal dialogue to shape the ongoing fourth industrial revolution.

In 2018, FES Korea will endeavour to assist in starting such a dialogue."

Sven Schwersensky, Director, FES Korea

Myanmar just recently transitioned from military to civilian rule. This transformation to an actual open and democratic society will take much longer, and our office will provide platforms for a national conversation about this process."

Alexey Yusupov, Director, FES Myanmar

"The Mongolia office successfully hosted progressives from around the world at the SocDem Asia and Progressive Alliance meetings in Ulaanbaatar in May 2017. In the next year, we will continue to promote the values and ideas of social democracy in Mongolia."

Niels Hegewisch, Director, FES Mongolia

"In 2017, Nepal completed local elections after 20 years in an overall free and fair process. FES was able to contribute to this important step with a civic education programme, well established across the country. To support the decentralization progress even further, we will reshape our activities become more inclusive and participatory, linking them up to our high-level seminars in the country’s capital to promote the dialogue between the central level and the citizens."

Annette Schlicht, Director, FES Nepal

"FES Pakistan was proud to facilitate the Trade Union Shadow Report on Labour Standards in the context of the EU-Pakistan GSP+ scheme of trade preferences. In the coming year, we look forward to improving institutional capacity of trade unions for monitoring compliance with labour standards as part of the GSP+ scheme."

Rolf Paasch, Director, FES Pakistan

"Maintaining and expanding our network of great partner organizations and individuals in the Philippines has been an important achievement for our office.

We will continue to build broader alliances to increase our impact on key issues in the country."

Johannes Kadura, Director, FES Philippines

"At a panel event in Brussels in June 2017, FES Singapore presented our findings to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström that workers in Asia do not benefit from globalized trade. In 2018, we will help shape the debate in the EU on how to make international trade fairer and respect the rights of working people in Asia."

Adrienne Woltersdorf, Director, FES Office for Regional Cooperation in Asia

"Over 2017, we managed to bring together partners from our different working areas to discuss Thailand’s future. Connecting people from different backgrounds while looking at big questions is very rewarding.

Next year, we plan to launch our first summer school with our new partner. This will gather young, engaged people—students of political science, of economics, science, arts and so on—that share a common interest in taking responsibility and shaping Thailand’s future."

Stine Klapper, Director, FES Thailand

"We’ve supported the economic and political integration of Vietnam into the international community for many years now. With the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement to be ratified in 2018, we want to support our Vietnam partners to ensure a future where trade benefits workers and leads to a fair distribution of the gains of globalization."

Erwin Schweisshelm, Director, FES Vietnam

"We have managed to bring social justice claims into the debate on the energy transition in Asia. Next year we are planning to go further on this path by enabling a dialogue among different interest groups in the region on how to achieve a socially just energy transition that involves everybody."

Yvonne Blos, Regional Coordinator for Climate and Energy, FES Vietnam

For more information, contact Mila Shopova, Regional Communications Coordinator at the FES Office for Regional Cooperation in Asia.

FES Asia

Bringing together the work of our offices in the region, we provide you with the latest news on current debates, insightful research and innovative visual outputs on the future of work, geopolitics, gender justice, and social-ecological transformation.