JAKARTA, 25 July – The ASEAN Ministers of Youth launched the first ASEAN Youth Development Index (YDI) Report in Jakarta following the conclusion of the tenth ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Youth (AMMY X) on 20 July. Overall, the report indicated improvements in youth development in the region between 2011 and 2015.

As the flagship project under the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020, the First ASEAN YDI Report aimed at evaluating the outcomes and effectiveness of youth programmes in ASEAN, thus providing basis for informed decision-making and planning new interventions for the youth. The ASEAN YDI looked at various indicators in the domains of education, health and wellbeing, employment and opportunity, and participation and engagement.

The report finds that the youth of ASEAN is 6.4 times more likely to be unemployed than their adult counterparts in the labour force. Consequently, and consistent with the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020, youth entrepreneurship takes a centre stage as a priority focus under the ASEAN youth sector chairmanship of Indonesia in 2017 and 2018.  “One of the answers to unemployment is to position youth entrepreneurship as a driving force of our economy. Empowering our youth with entrepreneurial skills is critical to anticipate the changing nature of the global market and ensure sustainable economic development in our region,” said Gatot Sulistiantoro Dewa Broto, Secretary to the Minister of Youth and Sports of Indonesia and Chairperson of ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY).

Yoriko Yasukawa, Regional Director of the UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, who also graced the launch, highlighted the need to ensure that all young women and men enjoy the necessary conditions for a life of dignity, and have the opportunity to fully develop and exercise their capacities as people and as citizens. These, she said, are crucial in realising ASEAN’s Vision 2025, and in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Echoing the same outlook, Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy-Secretary General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) highlighted one of the findings that education improved significantly across the region but employment and opportunity slightly declined. He emphasised that this result indicates the importance for these two domains to work in concert as having a high number of educated youth who are unemployed can lead to negative social problems.  DSG Vongthep thus highlighted the need for greater efforts in promoting greater inclusiveness through ASEAN such as through the ASCC initiative on “Culture of Prevention” as a means to achieve peaceful, inclusive, and resilient societies for the well-being of ASEAN citizens, especially the youth.

Representing the ASEAN youth, Aghnia Dima, a member of UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel in Indonesia appreciated the commitment of ASEAN to the youth sector through the ASEAN YDI. She assured that the youth would play a leading role in moving a forward–looking ASEAN Community through sharing creative ideas and experiences across countries and continuing the partnerships to ensure the achievement of SDGs and the ASEAN Vision 2025 particularly the ones affecting young people.

The First ASEAN YDI Report also calls for future consideration to strengthen the ASEAN YDI and include relevant areas such as gender, inclusiveness and youth as a demographic dividend in the hope that improved data will become available for future ASEAN YDIs both at the regional and national levels.

The report will be available soon through the ASEAN website and Facebook account.