Viet Nam News
Representatives of youth participants and officials officially kicks off the APEC Voices of the Future 2017. — VNA/VNS Photo
ĐÀ ĐẴNG — The youth, with their creativity and dynamism when nurtured in the right direction, can be the driving force of a nation as the world gets increasingly connected, leading to a promising future, according to an official.
“Young leaders from 21 member economies have to recognise that we all share a common future; how we want our future to turn out depends on what we do in the present,” the co-chair of the APEC Voices Leadership Council James Soh said in his welcome remarks at the APEC Voices of the Future (VOF) 2017, which opened on Monday morning in the central city of Đà Nẵng.
“So it’s when we try to work to contribute towards common goals, we will reap fruits and share in the prosperity and growth of our nations,” he said, emphasising that the theme chosen by the host is fitting for the young generation of the Asia-Pacific region.
As many as 180 youth delegates from 17 out of the total 21 APEC member economies made it to VOF 2017, held on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week on November 6-11 with a similar theme -- “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future”.
Young representatives from Mexico attend the APEC Voices of the Future 2017. — VNA/VNS Photo
VOF has been around for nearly 20 years, and is the official youth programme of the APEC Leaders’ Week.
“We need young people because they are the future, so we need to provide them with a platform and also allow them to have a voice, because when we talk about APEC Leaders’ Week, it’s only about the leaders and the ABAC meeting,” Soh said in an interview ahead of the opening ceremony.
“So we must allow them to have a voice to raise their concerns about what affects them, because sometimes political leaders may not know [that]. It’s good for them to interact and understand the working of APEC.”
The co-chair of APEC Voices Leadership Council highlighted the importance of VOF, explaining that it provided opportunities for the youth to interact with policymakers and businesspeople.
“And since they always have new ideas and are very tech-savvy, they can come up with new suggestions on how we can enhance business, making it a win-win situation,” Soh said.
“VOF is very important because it helps young Vietnamese people understand many things. For example, as we’re preparing for the APEC meetings, there’s this typhoon, so the issue of climate change is very important,” keynote speaker Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, former UN under-secretary general, said.
The VOF 2017 attracts 180 delegates from 17 out of 21 APEC member economies.— VNA/VNS Photo
“If we don’t take focus on the climate change issue, we will experience worse weather patterns, our food supplies will be affected and our seas will be more acidic. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that these important issues are what the young generation actually takes on. And if we don’t help them address these issues now, they will be inheriting a world that is less secure,” Dr. Heyzer added.
Dr. Heyzer, from the Singapore Management University, emphasised three main challenges facing APEC economies -- climate change, changing world economy with one of the main concerns being technological disruption, and inequality. This is the major reason she came to the venue, to put these issues on the table during a dialogue with young participants, with the topic "Promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth amongst the youth in the Asia-Pacific region”.
Apart from generating a platform for the youth, VOF also has a range of objectives -- from enhancing the understanding of APEC goals and objectives to contributing to the friendship, solidarity and co-operation among the youth within the economies; enhancing effectiveness of the youth network in the region to exchange ideas and knowledge on global issues; and promoting the active and constructive role of youth in the region in the process of building a shared future for “peace, stability, development and prosperity”.
“I’m from Harbin, a northern part of China which has not developed – what I’m concerned a lot about is education and the world’s economy,” said Jiang Zhuowen, a high school student from China.
“I want to know about the concerns from Việt Nam and from other places. And we can make opportunities to communicate, even create friendships and do business with each other.
“Today we’re students. We’re going to learn from the CEOs and leaders in the world. But in the future, since I think some of us will go into business or work for the Government, I think we need to strengthen our relationships with other economies and friends, and we will be able to come together to form new powers to push forward our economy, our society and our world,” said Zhuowen.
As one of three young Mexicans attending VOF 2017, Patricio Valerio Montalvo said being here is very important “because many things in the world are globalised every day, so we need to know what it’s like to be from one region, and what it’s like to be from many others, to respect and embrace our differences”.
“To be able to grow you need to embrace what it’s like to be from one culture and to be educated and grow in another – that’s what I took away from Peru. I’ve known what it’s like to be an American, Mexican, Canadian citizen, but Asia is more difficult because we weren’t in touch much with Asian people. We’re here today because we would like to be in touch,” said Montalvo.
In a message sent to the VOF 2017 participants, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the APEC 2017 National Committee Phạm Bình Minh said, "Your passion, talents and involvement in the APEC process both add value to the region and help foster a new generation of leaders dedicated to free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region."
As the target year 2020 for the Bogor Goals approaches and APEC is about to enter its fourth decade, the Deputy PM reiterated, "It’s time for your generation to take up the baton of building a vision for a dynamic, inter-connected, sustainable and inclusive APEC Community."
From Monday to Friday, VOF is scheduled to take the young participants to Quảng Nam Peace Village, Tam Thanh Mural Village, Thanh Hà Porcelain Village and Hội An Ancient Town.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, delegates of APEC Voices will have an opportunity to attend the APEC CEO Summit 2017 in small groups. — VNS