As future leaders of their countries and the ASEAN region, the youth is a key priority for ASEAN. The ASEAN Work Plan on Youth focuses on enhancing the capacity of youth through education, health and well-being, employment and opportunity, participation and engagement, and ASEAN awareness, values, and identity. The priorities include developing platforms that facilitate and promote ASEAN youth participation in ASEAN Community building, enhance awareness, belonging, and contribution to address regional and global challenges.
Participating in a youth programme can profoundly impact the course of one’s life. Take for example the story of Brunei native, Iqbal Damit.
Dr. Kao Kim Hourn began his five year-term as Secretary-General of ASEAN on 1 January 2023. He served two terms as Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (2003-2013) and two terms as Minister Delegate attached to the Prime Minister of Cambodia (2013-2022). He is the author of dozens of books and articles on Cambodia and ASEAN. Dr. Kao established The University of Cambodia in 2003 to provide quality education to disadvantaged youth. He served as the university’s president until he stepped down in October 2022.
Dr. Kao recently sat down for an interview with The ASEAN magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and the ASEAN Secretariat’s Corporate Affairs Director to discuss the region’s most significant challenges and his priorities for the next five years. Dr. Kao also shared his views on how the youth can be more engaged in shaping their future and building a stronger and more resilient ASEAN community.
Youth competitions keep young people involved in ASEAN while developing their social skills, confidence, and resilience. In 2022, three region-wide youth competitions were held: 6th ASEAN Youth Video Contest, ASEAN Youth Photo Competition 2022, and ASEAN Youth Debate 2022.
The ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN: Rising Above Challenges and Sustaining Growth (Ha Noi, June 2020) highlights the need for ASEAN to continue promoting a sense of belonging in the ASEAN Community. Increasing awareness of our shared values through people-to-people exchanges will foster this regional identity.
Sports have always played an integral role in the lives of the people of ASEAN—whether as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, develop and enhance one’s physical and psychomotor skills, or perform at an elite level. Sports have also created a platform for healthy competition and for strengthening bonds among ASEAN athletes, athlete support personnel, and other sports stakeholders through formal sports events, such as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, ASEAN Para Games, ASEAN University Games, and ASEAN Schools Sports Competitions. Beyond these competitions, ASEAN Member States have also hosted major sports events both at the Asian regional and international levels.
If you want to see how far women’s football has progressed in the last few years, you need to look no further than the ASEAN region, where Viet Nam and the Philippines have made history by qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023—the first time that either will play at a senior men’s or women’s FIFA World Cup. Thailand, who played at the 2015 and 2019 tournaments, could join them by qualifying via an interzonal playoff in February.
Attending sports matches and activities is a socio-cultural tradition in ASEAN. Therefore, it is essential that no segment of the population is excluded from these events on the basis of their disabilities. The increasing interest of ASEAN Member States to host major sports events has also made it necessary to ensure the accessibility and inclusivity of sports venues to all spectators.
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