SINGAPORE, 23 August 2017 – Building on efforts to improve the engagement of the people and communities of ASEAN, the ASEAN Foundation organised the 2nd S Rajaratnam Endowment – ASEAN Community Forum (SRE-ASEAN Community Forum), in partnership with Temasek Foundation Connects, on 23-24 August 2017 in Singapore. This event is part of a series of events to commemorate ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary in August.

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from all ten ASEAN member states attended the forum to exchange views and strategies on how sustainable development, environment protection, and disaster management can better build the ASEAN community. The forum also aimed to discuss ways to make the ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025 more relevant and responsive to improve lives of ASEAN citizens, specifically in sustainable development, environment protection, and disaster management. The CSOs learned about ASEAN processes and mechanisms to understand how they can better engage with ASEAN, and how the work of ASEAN can benefit the communities they work for.

“ASEAN has always been about people. This year we celebrate ASEAN’s 50th anniversary and there is a greater call for ASEAN to engage people, to feel that they belong to the ASEAN Community. The ASEAN Foundation sees this initiative as a strategic approach to embrace CSOs to deepen their understanding and knowledge about the ASEAN Blueprints 2025 and explore how their roles can contribute to supporting the ASEAN Community building efforts,” said Elaine Tan, Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation.

Emphasising the importance of regional cooperation in achieving an integrated ASEAN that benefits all, the Chief Executive of Temasek Foundation Connects, Mr Lim Hock Chuan said “Mr. S Rajaratnam was a firm believer in regional cooperation and he had played an active role to entrench ASEAN at the core of the broader regional political architecture. This forum would serve as a platform for key stakeholders to engage one another, forge stronger people-to-people engagement, contribute to the well-being of the people of ASEAN and work towards a shared ASEAN identity.”

CSOs was tasked to examine in groups one of the three themes most relevant to their line of work, i.e. sustainable development, environment protection, or disaster management. At the end of the forum, the three thematic groups produced and presented a work plan that outlines the challenges and opportunities to implement the ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025 based on their theme.

This forum followed the first one that was held in Singapore from 9-10 March 2017, which focused on rural development, women’s economic development, and micro-small-medium enterprises. The third forum, which will be held in April 2018, will cover the topics of youth, peace building/interfaith dialogue, and culture and education.