ASEAN Youth weigh in on building back better

MANILA, 14 December 2020 – The ASEAN Secretariat, along with the ASEAN Foundation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity’s European Union-funded platform – the ASEAN Youth Biodiversity Programme, co-organised the fourth and final episode of their interactive webinar series on 30 November.

The #ASEANYouth Building Back Better webinar sought to increase understanding among the youth on ASEAN’s action plans and mechanisms for youth engagement. Its aim is to identify entry points and recommendations to strengthen the youth’s role in ASEAN Community building efforts.

The last episode consisted of two dialogue sessions. The first session was an interface between youth representatives and ASEAN senior officials, while the second featured the youth’s exchange with ASEAN entities and partner organisations’ high-level officials. Dr. Syafiqah Abdul Rahim and Regine Guevara of the Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation moderated the dialogues.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Kung Phoak asserted that youth have a clear role in contributing to policy and decision-making in ASEAN.

“To make sure that the young people have the experience in these areas, we need to create more platforms for them to exchange views and be engaged in ASEAN’s programmes. In this way, young people can develop a better understanding of policy-making processes and eventually raise their concerns and solutions,” he said.

Youth panelists urged ASEAN to provide more space and opportunities to promote youth skills development. Meanwhile, high-level speakers called upon young people to contribute to ASEAN community building efforts by working together with ASEAN entities and partner organisations.

Panelists in the first segment highlighted how women and youth can play a bigger role in implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework in the post-COVID-19 era. Indigenous youth representative of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network Josefa Tauli also underlined the potential contribution of indigenous people and local communities to this effort.

Somkiao Kingsada, Director General of International Relations, Cooperation Department of Lao Youth Union and Chairperson of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth, along with Deputy Director-General of the Environmental Conservation Department of the Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Dr San Oo, also engaged with youth leaders during the session.

In the second session, Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation Dr. Yang Mee Eng, Executive Director of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim, and Head of Country Cluster Support Team for Indonesia and Timor-Leste and Representative to ASEAN of the IFRC Jan Gelfand, shared their ideas on how young people can be more involved in supporting ASEAN Community-building.

Gelfland commented that young people need to say “I have a voice, I need to have a voice, I want to be involved in the decisions that affect my life.”  Dr. Lim likewise emphasised the youth’s role and added that their inputs are welcomed in the implementation ASEAN Youth for Biodiversity Programme, even as early as the conceptualisation stage.

Dr. Yang of ASEAN Foundation highlighted the Foundation’s leadership programmes that simulate ASEAN meetings which provide young people with an opportunity to appreciate the region’s decision-making processes. These ASEAN Foundation model ASEAN meetings train young people in public speaking, negotiation and how to engage diplomatically in policy discussions.

There are around 213 million youths in ASEAN, roughly 30% of the region’s total population. They are at a crucial stage of their life development and are vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four-part Interactive Webinar Series explored the role of ASEAN youth in adapting to COVID-19 and fostering inter-generational learning and exchange. The previous webinars in the series showcased success stories of inspiring young leaders, frontliners, volunteers, entrepreneurs and innovators who were able to transform challenges into opportunities.

“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, so creating a mechanism allowing them to be engaged in ASEAN’s processes is important,” emphasised John Derrick Ordoñez, a youth panelist in the last webinar.

These webinars form part of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community COVID-19 Webinar Series with the overarching theme “The Impact of COVID-19 on ASCC Sectors and Post COVID-19 Strategies”.

The #ASEANYouth Building Back Better Webinar and previous Webinars can be accessed in the following links:

4th Episode3rd Episode2nd Episode1st Episode

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