Singapore, 21 March 2018 –  Following the adoption of the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention (CoP) for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society at 31st ASEAN Summit on 13 November 2017, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council Ministers gathered in a special retreat to discuss strategic ways to promote a culture of prevention in the region.

Recognising the need to institutionalise a culture of prevention to address the root causes of social issues including violence, environmental degradation and quality of life, the Ministers discussed strategic issues at the Retreat, especially on the development of preventive policies and programmes. They also discussed how to deepen partnerships with external stakeholders including forging public-private-people partnerships and strengthen institutional coordination across the three pillars of the ASEAN Community and its sectoral bodies.

The CoP represents a paradigm shift in our mindset, enabling ASEAN to comprehensively respond to challenges that hamper sustainable human and social development in our region. It aims to shift the approach upstream in order to strengthen resilience in ASEAN.

At the retreat, ASCC Council Chair Minister Desmond Lee called on ASEAN Member States to look into strategic upstream measures and preventive policies to develop peaceful, inclusive, resilient, healthy and harmonious societies in the region. Minister Lee said, “This is an important initiative that will help shape the future landscape of ASEAN.”

“The Ministerial Retreat represents a crucial crossroad for ASEAN. For the first time we will see ‘prevention’ figuring more prominently in our lexicon, and indeed, in all aspects of our work. Our CoP should be regarded as ASEAN’s resolve to promote a building-block and as an innovative approach to peace, social stability and development,” said Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN.

The CoP encapsulates 6 key thrusts, namely, (i) promoting a culture of peace and intercultural understanding; (ii) promoting a culture of respect for all; (iii) promoting a culture of good governance at all levels; (iv) promoting a culture of resilience and care for the environment; (v) promoting a culture of healthy lifestyle; and (vi) promoting a culture supporting the values of moderation.

In promoting a culture of prevention, ASEAN will seek to address various underlying causes including poverty, gender inequality, racial and religious discriminations, lack of access to education and employment opportunities, lack of access to a sustainable, safe and clean environment, as well as deprivation of physical and mental well-being especially in times of crises, among others.

Going forward, ASEAN will strengthen efforts to support and promote CoP, especially in fostering and inculcating the preventive mindset so that it becomes part of the socio-cultural DNA of ASEAN.