Examples of tangible and intangible outcomes of past "Bridges" events in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia:
Wide-spread network and influence
The 450 "Bridges" events held in ASEAN since 2003 including keynote speeches, dialogues, seminars, workshops, conferences, concerts and other artistic performances directly influenced a total audience of 140,000 participants, mostly young students across different parts of the ASEAN region, and millions of others through more than 10,000 press articles and media reports.
"Bridges" has made Thailand the hub for the world's leading peace, civil-society and human-rights advocates." (The Nation) "The Thai government is proud to host the "Bridges" event series and that the International Peace Foundation has established its Asian office in Bangkok. The high quality of the speakers in the "Bridges" program means that the eyes of the world are watching." (Look east Magazine)
117 local and international institutions across the ASEAN region including 51 major universities and schools, with which the International Peace Foundation cooperated in the "Bridges" programs, gained access to a total of 38 Nobel Laureates plus 18 other world leaders and artists including Vladimir, Dimitri and Vovka Ashkenazy, Dr. Hans Blix, Jackie Chan, Gareth Evans, Prof. Marcia Haydee, Ismael Ivo, HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein, DJ Marusha, the late Dame Anita Roddick, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Vanessa-Mae, Jessye Norman, Dr. Karan Singh, Oliver Stone, Jakob von Uexkuell and Dr. James Wolfensohn who participated as keynote speakers in the "Bridges" events.
After their first-time visits to Thailand as "Bridges" keynote speakers various Nobel Laureates have since then invited Thai students to work in their labs abroad.
Universities in the ASEAN region visited by Nobel Laureates as "Bridges" keynote speakers have invited these Nobel Laureates to return and start common research programs and other forms of collaboration.
After receiving visits of various Nobel Laureates as "Bridges" keynote speakers Thailand's National Electronic and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC), the National Metal and Materials Technology Centre (MTEC), the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) and the Nanotechnology Centre have started collaborative work in multidisciplinary research and development such as the Bio-Sensor Project.
- Various Nobel Laureates, during their visits to Cambodia as "Bridges" keynote speakers, urged government leaders including the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport to make education and human resource development a priority of the government, e.g. by providing personal computers to all students as well as scholarships to study abroad for students to be able to discover the world and other cultures, to enable international understanding and to further their own skills and talents with the aim of using these skills for the development of Cambodia after their studies and returning home from abroad.
Fundraising for scientific research and humanitarian aid
Nobel Laureates for Physics, Chemistry and Medicine who visited ASEAN countries as "Bridges" keynote speakers successfully urged the heads of state and the governments of these countries to allocate more funds to education and scientific research. Following the visit of Nobel Laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover in April 2008, for example, the Philippine government allotted 100 Million Pesos for the Advanced Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program while 3 Billion Pesos were pegged for the engineering R&D scholarship that ran up to 2010. The said program includes the upgrading of S&T infrastructures. As a result 300 MS and PhD graduates where added to the current S&T manpower in the country. Since the "Bridges" events started in the Philippines and after 5 consecutive meetings with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the government also greatly improved its investments in scholarships and schools.
Through the "Bridges" events financial assistance was also provided, among others, to the Support Foundation of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit to build schools in the rural areas of Thailand, to the Human Development Foundation to support street children and people with HIV/AIDS in Bangkok's Klong Toey slum community, and to Baan Kru Noi's Children's Home in Bangkok's Ratburana slum to provide education for orphans and disadvantaged children. Several "Bridges" keynote speakers and artists including Jackie Chan, the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein and DJ Marusha provided their support and hands-on philanthropy in personal visits to these humanitarian organizations facilitated by the International Peace Foundation.
Nobel Laureates and other "Bridges" keynote speakers and artists including, among others, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein and Vanessa-Mae visited Thailand after the Andaman tsunami tragedy to supply aid for victims including orphans as well as for relief and reconstruction workers in southern Thailand.
Protecting the environment
- Nobel Laureate Prof. Paul J. Crutzen's visit to Thailand as a "Bridges" keynote speaker raised the awareness to educate farmers about the causes and effects of air pollution caused by biomass burning and the alternative practices they can adopt, for example by finding ways to integrate straw into the soil rather than burning it.
- During his visit toThailand as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Nobel Laureate Prof. Zhores Alferov campaigned for a large-scale use of solar energy as the only sustainable energy source for electricity generation as the traditional means of burning fuel at power stations is accompanied by chemical and radiation contamination of the environment.
- During his visit to Cambodia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta proposed a climate change summit in Asia through which the region could show its leadership role in combating global warming. Such a summit could result in each country voluntarily pledging their own rate of green house gas emissions reductions rather than trying to bind them through treaties which are difficult to be kept. He urged the governments in the region to adopt a strong Asian consensus on CO2 emission reduction, sustainable development and poverty eradication and to develop a fund to address these issues.
Improved health care
Nobel Laureates in Science used their visit to the ASEAN region as "Bridges" keynote speakers to urge governments to set up an international health fund to tackle malaria and HIV/AIDS. Nobel Laureates in Science used their visit to the ASEAN region as "Bridges" keynote speakers to urge governments to set up an international health fund to tackle malaria and HIV/AIDS.
- During a visit of Nobel Laureate Prof. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi to Cambodia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker she secured further funding to help the country in the research of an effective HIV prevention program. She also urged the government to do more to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and to provide access to third-line treatment for patients who have become resistant to medicine available in Cambodia.
- During his visit to Cambodia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Nobel Laureate Prof. Torsten N. Wiesel urged the government to increase its financial resources for the continued clearance of landmines in the country. He also called on the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to increase their involvement in the clearance.
After a visit of Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta to Kuala Lumpur as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Malaysia promised assistance of medical tourism expertise to the people of Timor-Leste by offering medical services treatment of chronic diseases. The visit also furthered the development of youth cooperation between Malaysia and Timor-Leste through sponsorship programs of Malaysia for Timor-Leste citizens to further their education in Malaysia.
- After their first-time visits to Cambodia as "Bridges" keynote speakers Nobel Laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover and other fellow Nobel Laureates vowed to return to the country regularly, among others, to help build up a Medical School at the University of Cambodia.
The 30 days working visit to Thailand of Prof. Marcia Haydee and Ismael Ivo, two of the most famous and influential dancers of our time, as part of the "Bridges" intercultural exchange program lifted Thailand's performing arts world into a new dimension. Professor Haydee and Ismael Ivo choreographed, rehearsed and coached 50 Thai dancers, composers and costume designers to stage a brand new dance adaptation of William Shakespeare's "The Tempest" at a sold-out Thailand Cultural Center. As one of the results Pichet Klunchuen and other Thai dancers have been invited collaborate in international production in Europe.
- After his visit to Cambodia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan decided to shoot one of his next movies on stolen artefacts at the Angkor Wat temple complex and on other locations in Cambodia. During his visit to Thailand, also as a "Bridges" keynote speaker, he confirmed to return to the country the following year to support various UNICEF projects.
- During their visits to Thailand as "Bridges" keynote speakers the International Peace Foundation facilitated meetings between Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan and Thai actress Anne Thongprasom and between Hollywood film director Oliver Stone and Thai actors, actresses, models and singers Mario Maurer, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, Marsha Wattanapanich and Sukrit Wisetkaew (BIE The Star) to further future collaborations. After his visit to Thailand and Cambodia, Oliver Stone entered into discussions with UNICEF to become one of UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassadors, facilitated by the International Peace Foundation.
- For the first time ever pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy shared a stage with his two sons Dimitri (clarinetist) and Vovka (pianist) after all three had been invited by the International Peace Foundation to perform together two Concerts for a Culture of Peace with especially composed pieces to packed audiences at Chaktomuk Theatre in Phnom Penh and at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila as part of the "Bridges" program.
During her visit to Thailand as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Dame Anita Roddick launched the ongoing "Stop Violence in the Home" campaign mainly targeted towards women in the rural parts of Thailand aiming to reduce domestic violence in the home against women and children.
Dr. Shirin Ebadi and other Nobel Laureates for Peace visiting Thailand as "Bridges" keynote speakers repeatedly called on the Thai government to withdraw troops from the violence-torn South and to sit down and hold a sincere and open dialogue with separatists and Malay Muslims to foster and achieve peace. They stressed the importance for the governments to resort to peaceful means to resolve conflicts and to cultivate peace through education. As "violence breeds violence and violence is contagious" they promoted perseverance and dialogue as the only sustainable solutions despite a tendency to prefer an immediate end to conflict through arms and violence.
Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta helped to revive the stalled Mindanao peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after a visit to Davao as a "Bridges" keynote speaker.
- On the occasion of Reverend Jesse Jackson's visit to Thailand as a "Bridges" keynote speaker he successfully appealed to the Thai government to continue its policy of accepting displaced people from Myanmar on a temporary basis and to provide them with education. Before Reverend Jackson's visit to the Ban Kwai displaced persons camp about three kilometers from the Myanmar border in the northern Thai province of Mae Hong Son, the Thai government threatened to close down all the refugee camps in the country and to push back some of the estimated 200,000 refugees from Myanmar, saying they are an unacceptable economic burden and an impediment to improved relations with the Myanmar military junta. The 18,256 residents of the camp visited by Reverend Jackson, mainly belonging to the Karenni ethnic minority, have fled their homes in Myanmar due to brutal repression by the country's ruling junta.
- While and after being in Thailand as "Bridges" keynote speakers Nobel Laureates have lend their weight to the global call for an early tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean. This included calls on the US government to increase their role by making funds available for scientific research.
- The advice of Dr. James D. Wolfensohn, sought by the President of the Philippines while Dr. Wolfensohn was visiting the country as a "Bridges" keynote speaker, as well as his widely published and discussed remarks during the "Bridges" events resulted in a reexamination of the government's anti-poverty programs. Dr. Wolfensohn warned that if the Philippines continued on the path of high inequality and rising poverty, it runs the risk of heightened social unrest. That the poverty incidence in the Philippines had worsened despite economic growth was partly due to the government's measly spending on education. Dr. Wolfensohn said it was education that allowed poor people to take advantage of opportunities to uplift their conditions. Together with healthcare, education allowed the benefits of a growing economy to trickle down to the poor. Dr. Wolfensohn also stressed that good governance was key to a better distribution of the country's income to the needy. Also, Manila's mayor sought advice from Dr. Wolfensohn during his visit on how the city government can effectively manage its finances.
- During his visit to the Philippines as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Nobel Laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover urged the government to focus its investment on education, especially on science and technology, to improve the country's economy and Filipinos' lives. He also encouraged Filipino experts abroad to return to their homeland and share their knowledge with fellow Filipinos to strengthen the country's human resource capabilities and the country's development.
- During his visit to Thailand as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta urged the United States and the European Union to review their policies of imposing economic sanctions on Myanmar as the country's people should not be punished for "the perceived sins of their leaders" and as the country's military regime is key to the future stability of any elected government.
- On the occasion of Reverend Jesse Jackson's visit to Malaysia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker he announced his planned mission to Iran to secure the release of the US Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi who was sentenced to eight years in jail for allegedly spying for the United States.
- On the occasion to their visits to Cambodia and Thailand Nobel Laureates, visiting both countries as "Bridges" keynote speakers, called Cambodian and Thai government leaders to continue to resolve the border dispute around the Preah Vihear temple peacefully.
- One year before the global economic downturn started Nobel Laureate Prof. Robert A. Mundell caused a public stir during his visit to Thailand as a "Bridges" keynote speaker when he warned that it would take a global crisis before there was a better realignment of global exchange policy away from the US dollar. He urged the government and the Bank of Thailand to use their vote in the International Monetary Fund to push for changes. A wake-up call for many, he recommended Thailand would do well to move away from flexible exchange rates to a more fixed-rate system such as a currency board or US dollar basket to better stabilize rates. Professor Mundell suggested the world needed to be anchored to two, three or four currencies - the US dollar, the euro, the yen and the yuan - as a step towards a more reasonable international monetary system. He praised the sufficiency-economy philosophy of His Majesty the King of Thailand, saying it should be applied at the international level, because it was not inconsistent with market economies. It complements a market economy, which is driven by selfishness.
- The Central Bank of the Philippines sought Nobel Laureates Prof. Finn E. Kydland's advice, while visiting the Philippines as a "Bridges" keynote speaker, on the central bank's role in resolving issues such as the adverse impact of the US subprime crisis on the financial markets and the real estate sector. Professor Kydland cautioned central bankers against using interest rates to perk up stock markets in times of financial turmoil, saying the US Federal Reserve's emergency rate cut in early 2008 was a "very bad" yardstick. He disagreed with the US Fed and its attempt to boost the stock market through a series of interest-rate cuts, saying central banks in general "are supposed to provide a low-inflation environment". Professor Kydland also advised the Central Bank of the Philippines to seek greater independence from the Department of Finance.
- Nobel Laureate Prof. Robert F. Engle used his visit to Malaysia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker to propose the creation of a banking regulatory body to scrutinize risk taking in the banking sector. This oversight should be extended to hedge funds and other financial institutions to ensure that risky business dealings were kept at a controlled level. Professor Engle's proposed policy would tighten regulation when banks are doing well and would give more flexibility when the banking system is going through problems. He also urged governments to fight poverty and reform the education systems as a key to promote long-term stability. He supported Malaysia's proposition that Islamic banking could solve some of the problems of the global financial crisis.
- During a visit of President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta to Bangkok as a "Bridges" keynote speaker cooperation agreements on energy development between Thailand's petroleum group PTT and Timor-Leste's Ministry of Natural Resources were signed which includes PTT's financial assistance to develop technology and management skills and to help Timor-Leste to set up its own national petroleum company. Thailand's government also agreed to provide assistance to Timor-Leste's agricultural sector to help improve living standards and sustain development in Timor-Leste.
- As Cambodia begins to oversee the drilling of its offshore oil fields and as Timor-Leste owes much of its economic growth to revenue from its oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea, Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta offered advice and guidance to the Cambodian government during his visit to Phnom Penh as a "Bridges" keynote speaker.
After a visit of Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta to Manila as a "Bridges" keynote speaker bilateral cooperation on education and professional training between the Philippines and Timor-Leste were strengthened. The Philippine government granted visas which are valid for up to four years to Timorese students planning to enroll in Philippine schools and colleges. Also a bilateral cooperation on marine and fisheries resources was established involving an investment mission of the Philippine Agriculture Secretary to Timor-Leste to explore areas of cooperation in food security and on sustainable development and responsible management of fisheries.
- During the visit of Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta to Phnom Penh as a "Bridges" keynote speaker Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen accepted President Dr. Ramos-Horta's invitation to visit Timor-Leste while President Dr. Ramos-Horta accepted Prime Minister Hun Sen's invitation for a state visit to Cambodia in the near future. Both government leaders agreed to send business delegations to each other's countries to explore economic, investment, trade and agricultural options including the import of rice and garment to Timor-Leste.
The visit of Nobel Laureate President Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta to Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia as a "Bridges" keynote speaker reconfirmed the support of all three governments for Timor Leste's application of ASEAN membership by 2012.