JAKARTA, 20 December 2017 – Seventy youth leaders and alumni of various ASEAN youth programmes including the Japan East-Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) gathered at the ASEAN Secretariat on 19 December to reflect on their experiences and most pressing issues in ASEAN and the world today. They also shared their insights on the way forward in the development of ASEAN youth programmes and projects especially 2018.

Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community welcomed the youth participants. “We need to involve the youth more deeply in planning programmes and policies for them. It is important for them to truly understand the affairs of ASEAN so they can truly participate in charting the future of our region and of the ASEAN Community”, he said.

Selected alumni of the JENESYS shared lessons learned and areas for improving programme implementation. They also suggested new topics that could be included in future batches such as ASEAN languages and socio-cultural literacy. JENESYS is a project advanced by the Government of Japan to provide a sound foundation for strong solidarity within ASEAN and Asia through large-scale youth exchange. The youth gathering featured JENESYS as a good practice.

Various divisions of the ASEAN Secretariat formed a special panel and presented key messages and most pressing issues that ASEAN youth need to know about and how those phenomena could affect the youth, the region and the world. Key ASEAN sectors presented in the event included labour and employment, innovation and technology, climate and disasters, rural youth and development, family, country and politics. The key messages served as realistic context in the discussions.

Guided by the key messages, youth facilitators led group discussions anchored on the four priorities of the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020 such as youth employability and entrepreneurship, youth awareness and appreciation of an ASEAN community, youth involvement and participation, and youth leadership and youth resilience. Key recommendations included strengthening social entrepreneurship, developing ICT-based communication materials about ASEAN, providing more systematic opportunities for youth volunteerism, and providing youth platform for project development and policy discussions. Moreover, the youth participants concluded that some of the most alarming issues in ASEAN are food security, climate and disasters, question of equality, reliability of information, and fast-changing technology.

The youth gathering paid tribute to the achievements of the ASEAN youth sector over the years. It also provided opportunity for ASEAN to listen to the voice of young people in charting another year of ASEAN cooperation on youth through various programmes and activities. Youth-led and youth-focused discussions generated ideas and perspectives that could serve as rich reference for ASEAN Secretariat and the SOMY in designing activities to implement the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020.

The ASEAN Secretariat convened the event with support of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY).