The 5th SOMRDPE was hosted by the Philippines on 12-14 October 2005 in Makati City, the Philippines.   The Meeting was attended by Senior Officials on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam and representatives of the ASEAN Secretariat.

We took the opportunity to discuss the importance of eradicating poverty and narrowing development gaps in ASEAN, to achieve our Leaders’ vision of an ASEAN Community by 2020. We strongly believe that poverty eradication lies at the core of our community-building process, and also contributes to the enhancement of ASEAN competitiveness. We also discussed ways and means to further intensify the present momentum of our collaboration, with a view to link our efforts to the regional priorities identified by our Leaders in the Vientiane Action Programme (adopted by the 10th ASEAN Summit in November 2004).

When reviewing implemented, ongoing and planned activities, we discussed linking the relevant priorities of the Vientiane Action Programme to the Framework Action Plan on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (2004-2010), and identify areas for collaboration with our Dialogue Partners and international organisations such as the World Bank and the UNDP who have joined hands with us in addressing relevant priorities of our plans and programmes for rural development and poverty eradication.

We had an extensive exchange of views on successes and lessons learned in our micro-financing and employment/income generation strategies.  We have agreed to undertake the following as a regional endeavour, to continue sharing and learning from each other, especially to use microfinance as a vehicle to achieve the MDGs.

a. sustaining the momentum of sharing information and experience currently taking place under the ASEAN-World Bank video conference learning programmes, with more focused discussions on micro-finance;
b. workshops on best practices of micro-finance institutions (MFIs); and
c. policy conferences on topics such as supervision and regulation of MFIs, promoting public-private sector collaboration, and others.

We discussed key elements of an ASEAN Millennium Development Compact (AMDC), which will provide a framework for inter-sectoral collaboration to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in ASEAN.

We also had consultations with the AsiaDHRRA (Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia). SOMRDPE had endorsed the AsiaDHRRA’s affiliation to ASEAN in 2004.

The next SOMRDPE meeting is scheduled for 2007 in Singapore.  In 2006, ASEAN Ministers on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication will be convening their 5th Meeting in Thailand.