It is not a rare occurrence for the youth in ASEAN to have the opportunity to voice their ideas and opinions in front of high-level officials in the region. On occasions such as the ASEAN summits in 2019 and 2020, youth representatives interfaced with the Heads of State/Government. They managed to deliver statements on behalf of the youth, who comprise a third of the ASEAN’s population. However, can the youth be confident that their voices will be heard? How can the region’s policy-making community and key stakeholders act on the youth’s recommendations?
As of 2021, almost half or 44.7 per cent of the ASEAN population live in urban areas. With more than half of the population living in rural areas, including young people, they very likely experience the problems typically associated with rural and remote communities, such as inadequate access to health and education services, internet and ICT, and employment opportunities. Therefore, issues of the digital divide and lack of preparedness for 4IR cannot be overlooked.
Each generation is shaped by unique experiences and circumstances, and there is no better way to understand each other except through dialogue.
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.
P: (+6221)7262991, 7243372
F: (+6221)7398234, 7243504