Introduction to Wana Forum
The WANA Forum provides a platform for working together as members of the human community. We all benefit from collective regional action to resolve conflicts, to promote good governance, to raise living standards, to protect the environment, to face challenges that no nation can tackle alone. Assuming custodianship and stewardship of our fragile world is ultimately the responsibility of every one of us, for our own wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of others.
HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, WANA Forum Chairman
The Third Domain: The WANA Forum is a regional platform for dialogue among the ‘Third Domain’ – government, private sector and civil society – and seeks to activate and strengthen collaboration by, in part, identifying and linking existing regional initiatives. Incorporating the views of all levels of society – local communities, civil society actors, governmental institutions, the private sector – is more likely to instil a sense of ownership and legitimacy toward a more effective roadmap for the region than plans designed by external actors, or just at the national level.
Regional Cooperation: Despite the increasing global movement towards supranational solutions, many countries in the WANA region remain focused solely on national agendas. As a result, they are less able to advocate for their shared interests on the global stage. In a geopolitical era characterised by territoriality, identity and movement, the region’s most pressing challenges are predominantly transnational, and thus require regional cooperation to mobilise resources, exchange lessons and best practices, promote knowledge production and dissemination, educate for citizenship and sustainable development and produce home-grown solutions to the region’s challenges.
Home-grown Approaches: The WANA Forum is a demonstration of the saying ‘only the tent pitched by one’s own hands will stand’, motivated by a keen desire for the people of the region to pitch their own tents and drive their own processes of growth, development and change, whether in the recovery of war-torn societies, the conjoining of prosperity and environmental responsibility or the strengthening of ties and bonds between peoples and cultures of the region. The WANA Forum complements existing frameworks of international cooperation by cultivating ideas and initiatives from within the region and by the 6 WANA Forum 2011 people of the region. Combining cultural tradition, knowledge and wisdom with modern perspectives gives rise to a mutual structure upon which solutions are built. The Forum aims to develop a physical and virtual space that can inspire, promote, advocate and develop innovative thinking, strategies and policies for the WANA region.
Who are WANA Forum members? Forum Members are individuals from government, the private sector and civil society – ranging from statesmen and stateswomen to students – who dedicate their time to advance the mission of the WANA Forum. Guided by the vision of Prince El Hassan and with the support of the Secretariat as facilitators, Forum members recognise the WANA Forum as their forum and are encouraged to be part of a growing network of participants with a long-term personal commitment to remain proactive and to act as ambassadors for WANA in their own professional and geographical contexts. Membership is by invitation and participation in any WANA Forum meeting entails membership.
Who sponsors the WANA Forum? Thanks to the generosity of The Nippon Foundation and its Chairman, Yohei Sasakawa, the WANA Forum is able to continue its endeavors and remain an apolitical, unaffiliated organisation that can better serve the region and its people. The Nippon Foundation is a non-profit philanthropic organisation, active both in Japan and abroad. Since its beginning, it has worked to bolster the domestic development of Japan and has expanded to include such fields as education, social welfare and public health, both within Japan and in more than one hundred countries to date. The foundation’s fundamental aim is the realisation of a peaceful and prosperous global society, in which none need struggle to secure their basic human rights. As it works toward this goal, it is essential to respect the different value systems embraced by the world’s many cultures while transcending political, religious, racial and ethnic divisions.
Why WANA? Prince El Hassan bin Talal has long adopted the geographic terminology of West Asia and North Africa to describe a region which stretches from Bangladesh to Morocco. The term “Middle East” was coined by the British over a century ago and is largely a misnomer – it is only east from the perspective of Europe, depicting a geographical position in relation to Europe rather than its location within Asia. The Forum advocates a definition of the region less rooted in political geography, and based on an understanding of human geography, with shifting borders, flows of people, resources and ideas. “Regional cooperation is predicated upon people’s perceptions that they are part of a single region,” Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said in his keynote speech at the second annual meeting of the Forum. “Doing so is not about a map or acronym, but about identity and ensuring that the so-called ‘person on the street’ feels that he or she is a citizen of WANA as well as a citizen of his or her own country.”