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ASEAN youth leaders push sustainable development in region

Update: November, 02/2021 - 20:44

Four young Vietnamese leaders attending the 2021 ASEAN Youth Fellowship (AYF) in Singapore in October. — Photo AYF 2021

SINGAPORE — Thirty-three ASEAN youth leaders, including four from Việt Nam, have shared their views with the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN on what young people can do to help the region move forward sustainably.

The youths, all participants of the 2021 ASEAN Youth Fellowship (AYF), gathered in Singapore from October 27 to 31 for the third edition of the programme, organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and the National Youth Council Singapore (NYC).

“Youths today are passionate and purpose-driven. Many of them want to make a difference through their work and they form an important voice for positive social change in the region. The AYF programme is designed to connect such young leaders and expose them to opportunities for collaboration to build a stronger ASEAN,” said Jean Tan, SIF Executive Director.

Their suggestions on the role of youths came in response to the Chairman’s Statement from the 38th/39th ASEAN Summits. The Statement emphasised the importance of unity in promoting ASEAN’s sub-regional development, especially in narrowing the development gap, enhancing ASEAN’s regional competitiveness and connectivity, and ensuring sustainable and inclusive development. 

Reflecting a collective voice as ASEAN youth, the participants proposed greater youth representation and consultation in policymaking. They also suggested ways to support the growth of sustainable businesses, which complements the region’s circular economy framework, and starting an ASEAN youth chapter to facilitate opportunities for cross-border knowledge sharing and collaborations, especially in the areas of youth empowerment, mentorship, human security, digital technology, and low-carbon energy.

Aligned to the 2021 AYF’s theme of “Building a Sustainable Future, Together”, the recommendations were focused on future-proofing ASEAN, building collective resilience, and leveraging digital solutions for sustainable global progress.

“The global community today has to address challenges that are not constrained by borders. By working together, we can share our knowledge and expertise to solve multifaceted issues. I encourage our Youth Fellows to build partnerships across the region and create a greener and more resilient future for ASEAN,” said David Chua, Chief Executive Officer, NYC Singapore.

Over five days, the 33 fellows took part in a series of dialogues that explored innovations in public health management. They had the opportunity to interact with distinguished thought leaders and public office holders, including the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, Trần Đức Bình, who shared his views on the importance of fostering an ASEAN identity, youth empowerment in ASEAN’s development agenda, and furthering people-to-people ties among ASEAN youths.

“I enjoyed hearing from senior policymakers and experts who shared valuable insights into the pressing issues the region faces today and opportunities that youth can contribute to driving changes, especially in the areas of sustainability, innovation, and regional partnerships,” Tracy Nguyễn, 2021 ASEAN Youth Fellow from Việt Nam said. — VNS

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