The Senior Officials Committee for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (SOCA) held its retreat on 28 February 2023. The meeting was chaired by Professor Warsito, Deputy
Minister for Education Quality Improvement and Religious Moderation, Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Cultural Affairs Indonesia and SOCA Chair.
The SOCA Leaders discussed ASEAN’s priorities, including the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) priority areas and deliverables under Indonesia’s Chairmanship theme "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth".
Professor Warsito welcomed Timor-Leste Director-General of the Ministry of Solidarity and Social Inclusion, Florençio Pina Dias Gonzaga’s presence in the meeting as an Observer. In support of Timor- Leste’s preparations to join ASEAN, the meeting was receptive to follow the agreed approach of the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Timor-Leste on sharing the report of the fact-finding mission to Timor-Leste.
One of the main agendas of the SOCA Retreat was to brief the meeting on Indonesia’s ASCC priorities and deliverables throughout the year. In his remarks, Professor Warsito stressed ASEAN needs to remain relevant by maintaining its centrality and becoming an anchor of stability and prosperity. He underlined the importance of the ASCC Pillar in strengthening health architecture, accelerating rural development, mitigating impacts of climate change, protecting and enhancing capacity of labour, and strengthening disability-inclusive development.
On strengthening regional health architecture, the meeting was briefed on promoting the one health approach to better respond to the health risks in the region. Such an approach recognises the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.
Empowering villages to enable them to fast-track rural development in the region will be another ASCC priority this year. The ASCC will accelerate rural development through harnessing collaborative platforms for knowledge-sharing and cooperation opportunities.
Promoting environmental cooperation to conserve biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change will also feature in Indonesia’s Chairmanship of the ASCC. In particular, it will enhance regional capacity to conserve biodiversity and implement the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.
On better protecting land-based and sea-based ASEAN migrant workers and enhancing the capacity of workers for the future of work, the ASCC will strengthen the protection of the rights of migrant workers in crisis situations and fishing vessels, and promote reskilling and upskilling of workers to meet future workforce demands.
Strengthening disability-inclusive development through enhancement of partnership is another capstone of Indonesia’s chairmanship of the ASCC in 2023. It will ensure the rights of persons with disability through the implementation of ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025 and beyond.
Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASCC Ekkaphab Phanthavong commended the range of deliverables for the ASCC this year. “I am confident that the ASCC under Indonesia’s able leadership will allow ASEAN to continue to be an epicentrum of growth” said DSG Ekkaphab Phanthavong.
From a press release previously published by the ASEAN Secretariat on 28 February 2023.