1. The 2nd Meeting of ASEAN Ministers on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (AMRDPE) was convened in Manila on 19 February 2000. The Meeting was preceded by the 3rd Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication on 16-17 February 2000 in Manila.

  2. The Meeting was chaired by the Honorable Horacio R. Morales, Secretary of Agrarian Reform and Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission of the Republic of the Philippines. ASEAN Ministers attending the meeting were the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, H.E. Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin bin OKP Abdul Rashid; H.E. Chhim Seak Leng, Senior Minister and Minister of Rural Development of Cambodia; Minister Coordinator for Social Welfare and Poverty Eradication of Indonesia, H.E. Basri Hasanuddin; Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office and President of the Central Leading Committee for Rural Development of Lao PDR, H.E. Xayxengly Tengbriachue; Minister of Rural Development of Malaysia, H.E Dato’ Azmi Khalid; Senior Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development of the Republic of Singapore, Madame Yu-Foo Yee Shoon; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Royal Thai Embassy in Manila, H.E. Lt. Ravee Hongsprabhas; and, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam, H.E. Cao Duc Phat; a representative from the Embassy of the Union of Myanmar in Manila, and their respective delegations. The Representative of the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Suthad Setboonsarng, Deputy Secretary General, and his delegation also attended the meeting.

  3. The Honorable Horacio R. Morales Jr., Secretary of Agrarian Reform, Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and Chair of the 2nd AMRDPE, highlighted the following in his Welcome Remarks:

    1. The rapid economic growth in Southeast and East Asia in the early nineties have positive and varying impacts on ASEAN Member Countries;

    2. The economic, political and social impact of the regional currency crisis in 1997 and 1998, the effects of which continue to haunt us today;

    3. Rising inequality amidst aggregate growth and the need to promote shared growth, where episodes of growth are immediately translated into poverty eradication.

  4. His Excellency President Estrada, in his Keynote Address to the Meeting, took note of the ASEAN regional cooperation to pursue rural development as the major component of poverty eradication. He said that rural development is an idea crying out for urgent realisation and that poverty and human needs were most deeply felt in the rural areas. He observed that any hope for attaining the goal of poverty alleviation would thus depend on development of the rural areas.

  5. The President reiterated that economies need to be strengthened along the pro-poor principle of growth with equity. He emphasised the immediate need for capital infusion if the masses were to rise above their poverty. Economic activities needed to be increased in order to provide sustained gainful employment for the people.

  6. President Estrada said that the task at hand is to look at the existing inter-relationships, the underlying principles and the mechanisms that could help propel rural economies towards sustainability. The next task would be to forge unity and cooperation among all the ASEAN peoples towards a common vision of prosperity  the realisation of poverty eradication.

  7. Finally, His Excellency President Estrada stated that ASEAN must first agree to help itself since ASEAN’s own actions – not those of people outside the region — would determine its own future.

  8. The Ministers noted with concern that the aftermath of the recent crisis in ASEAN posed a new challenge as the lag effect of financial and economic impact of the crisis was now being felt in the social sphere. They agreed that although the process of recovery had begun in ASEAN, there was still a need to consolidate efforts in building a strong foundation for pursuing economic and social recovery. In this regard, the Ministers welcomed the priority accorded by ASEAN Leaders and other ASEAN Ministerial Meetings to address the social impact of the crisis and expressed the hope that these Meetings would further consider the implications of their work on human development and poverty eradication.

  9. Regarding the implementation of the Framework ASEAN Plan of Action on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication and the ASEAN Action Plan on Social Safety Nets, the Ministers emphasised the importance of social safety nets and other national measures in promoting social resilience and cohesion in the ASEAN member countries as well as contribute towards realising the ASEAN Leaders’ vision of a community of caring societies.

  10. In this regard, they welcomed the implementation of two projects by the ASEAN Task Force on Social Safety Nets aimed at developing capacity for social impact assessments and in designing social protection and social safety net programmes. The Ministers noted that these projects would prepare ASEAN Member Countries to effectively cope with the social fallout arising from economic downturns through the sharing of experience and best practice among themselves.

  11. They noted with appreciation the assistance provided by AusAID and UNDP for these projects and urged other ASEAN Dialogue Partners and international agencies, including the ASEAN Foundation to consider providing support for other initiatives. The Ministers requested the ASEAN Foundation to expedite funding consideration for the projects on training of facilitators on rural development, enhancing public awareness (including the ASEAN poverty watch) and poverty assessment and monitoring, under the Framework ASEAN Plan of Action on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication. The Ministers also commended the ASEAN Secretariat for the efforts made in obtaining funding support for the various initiatives for rural development and poverty eradication. The Ministers reviewed the progress of ongoing activities under ASEAN cooperation in rural development and poverty eradication since the Inaugural AMRDPE Meeting held in 1997, and noted with satisfaction the increasing opportunities available for mutual learning and sharing of best practice/lessons learnt, and expressed the hope that such opportunities would further enhance the effectiveness of national efforts as well as foster greater ASEAN solidarity and advance the goals of regional integration.

  12. The Ministers noted the importance of enhancing collaboration between the government, the community, the private sector and the NGOs in efforts to address poverty issues in ASEAN, especially in the context of fiscal constraint. Accordingly, the Ministers welcomed the implementation of two projects under the Action Plan on Social Safety Nets to develop strategies for forging partnerships with the community and the business and private sector not only to deliver essential social services to the grassroots but also to enhance mutual learning within the region.

  13. The Ministers observed that AMRDPE’s initiatives to address the social impact of the crisis had been timely and that important opportunities had been created to promote mutual learning and sharing of best practice/lessons learnt. They expressed the hope that such opportunities would further enhance the effectiveness of national efforts as well as foster greater ASEAN solidarity and advance the goals of regional integration.

  14. The Ministers noted however that there remained a need to look ahead into the longer-term impact of globalisation on the poor and marginalised. In this regard, they noted the perils and opportunities arising from the process of globalisation and agreed that the AMRDPE will continue to discuss ways to promote meaningful participation of the poor and the marginalised in the new global economy, especially through improving access to social services in particular, and to information technology, modern telecommunications and the Internet. The Ministers also agreed that in order to further intensify ASEAN cooperation in sustainable rural development, the AMRDPE would create a network for direct communication among themselves, and also link existing national homepages to the ASEANWEB.

  15. In this connection, the Ministers welcomed the initiative by Thailand to prepare a draft Declaration for a Socially Cohesive and Caring ASEAN for adoption by the 33rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 2000.

  16. The Ministers noted the Philippines’ ongoing efforts in the area of rural development and poverty alleviation, particularly the initiative on enhancing national and regional awareness on anti-poverty and rural development strategies and an exchange of views on the focused approach in anti-poverty programmes.

  17. The Ministers expressed appreciation to Cambodia for the kind offer to host the Third Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication in 2002, and to Thailand for considering hosting the 2nd Informal Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication in 2001.

  18. The Ministers expressed their sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the Meeting.

  19. The Meeting was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN cordiality and solidarity.