The historic Asian-African Conference Building in Bandung, Indonesia, witnessed yet another notable moment on 24 July 2022 when hundreds of G20 Youth Summit (Y20) delegates gathered and declared a joint resolution for a better future. The communiqué was pivotal after a round of events that started earlier in the year.
Y20 delegates and observers worked tirelessly for the presummit since March 2022, in various locations across Indonesia: Palembang, West Nusa Tenggara, Balikpapan, and Manokwari. After two years of gathering online, these young people could finally meet in person to discuss, collaborate, and align their objectives. Moreover, for the first time, has invited four ASEAN youth representatives to contribute to the Y20 Communiqué. The delegates came from all over ASEAN region—Nguyen Dang Dao (Viet Nam, Diversity and Inclusion Track), Jin Xuan (Singapore, Youth Employment Track), Mohd Harith Ramzi (Malaysia, Digital Transformation Track), and Jitsai Santaputra (Thailand, Sustainable and Livable Planet Track).
The invitation is a recognition of the Year of ASEAN Youth 2022 and aims to prepare for the ASEAN Chairmanship of Indonesia in 2023. ASEAN Youth Head of Delegation to the Y20 Summit, Nguyen Dang Dao, conveys that the G20 presidency invitation to ASEAN youth is a wonderful opportunity to bring the voices of youth across Southeast Asia to the world leaders.
“We have conducted several activities to include the voices of ASEAN youth, particularly our Focus Group Discussion Event, where we consulted the needs and concerns of students and young professionals on the aforementioned tracks of the summit. The feedback we received helped inform our policy proposals and helped us prioritise and strategise our negotiations to be reflective of the experiences and needs of ASEAN.”
Through the recommendation, Dao adds, summit participants coming from different places acknowledge the same goal: to create better living conditions and a better future for young people across the world.
Youth engagement gaining more momentum
Having experienced working with an international office since 2017 as an intern for the ASEAN National Secretariat in the Viet Nam Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dao witnessed how policy-making organizations like ASEAN constantly improve their efforts to engage with young people. He affirmed that meaningfully engaging youth voices in the discourse is critical for G20 leaders to move towards a more diverse and inclusive society.
“It is impossible to solve the mismatches between young people and other stakeholders without talking about it through dialogue. That is why dialogue is important. It is a chance for young people to be listened to and to come up with common goals,” he argues.
Despite the growing youth representation in the international arena, Dao notes that youth is not a monolithic entity and expresses hope for greater inclusion of less-privileged youth in such international negotiations.
“When I come to international forums, I always see the same faces from people with similar backgrounds. Sometimes it feels a little bit exclusive. I hope pupils with fewer privileges and access will also be engaged in international forums. Hence, access to education plays a big role in boosting the ASEAN youth voice on the international stage where communication and negotiation skills are just as important as technical know-how and experience,” he says.
Currently, the ASEAN observers have been disseminating the Y20 Communiqué as part of post-Y20 summit advocacy efforts. Specifically, Jitsai, the delegate from Thailand, shared key takeaways from the Y20 Communiqué and emphasised intergenerational cooperation in the just energy transition and reaching the net zero emission targets during the recent New York Climate Week. Meanwhile, Jin and Harith, who represented Singapore and Malaysia, have been actively working with the Singapore National Youth Council and Youth Economic Forum to promote their policy recommendations.
In the meantime, Dao also hopes that ASEAN youth will be invited to the Y20 Summit again in the very near future, “so we can make a consistent impact to incorporate the voices of ASEAN youth into the Y20 and G20 summits,” he concludes.