The ASEAN Youth Conference (AYC) 2023 is an event organized by the ASEAN Youth Organization (AYO) in collaboration with the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia (Kemenko PMK RI). This event spanned a duration of three days, commencing on the 3rd and concluding on the 5th of November 2023.
The conference, under the theme “Guardians of The Sustainable Future for a Resilient ASEAN” invites young individuals from ASEAN member states and its allies to convene and engage in discussions pertaining to the challenges facing ASEAN amidst the global uncertainties.
The event is structured into three distinct discussion pillars, each with a unique focus: the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), and the ASEAN Political-Security Community (ASPC). These three pillars respectively address topics related to digital economics, social inclusivity, and the role of youth in promoting peace and security.
The conference saw the participation of over 130 delegates hailing from ASEAN member states and non-member countries, including Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands. The delegates, organized into various groups within each of the three pillars, pursued two primary objectives: the formulation of the ASEAN Youth Declaration and the presentation of projects addressing youth-related issues in ASEAN.
A copy of the declaration will be submitted to the ASEAN Secretariat and will be posted in AYO’s social media, while selected projects from each pillar will be executed in collaboration with AYO over the forthcoming six months.
The Importance of Youth to Build Better ASEAN
The inaugural day of the conference (3/11), took place at the Nusantara Hall of the ASEAN Secretariat and featured three significant events, namely a keynote speaker address, a panel discussion, and the drafting of the declaration document. The panel discussion was inaugurated by H. E. M. I Derry Aman, who serves as the Permanent Representative of The Republic of Indonesia to ASEAN.
In his opening remarks, he underscored that ASEAN, as outlined in the Jakarta Declaration of ASEAN Concord 4, is dedicated to shaping an ASEAN 2045 that is characterized by resilience, innovation, inclusivity, and dynamism, particularly for the youth. ASEAN remains committed to investing in the youth, viewing them not only as leaders for the future but also as the catalysts for positive change.
“34% or 223 million people of ASEAN are youth, thus indicating an opportunity to get demographic dividend. Facing many multidimensional challenges, youth must also seize any opportunity to advocate to make the world a better place,” says Derry Aman.
The proceedings proceeded with an opening address delivered by Ms. Woro Srihastuti Sulistyaningrum, who holds the position of Deputy for Coordinating Quality Improvement for Children, Women, and Youth at the Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia (Kemenko PMK RI).
In her speech, she emphasized the significance of youth engagement within the ASEAN framework as a crucial element in attaining a sustainable future. She explained, “It is very vital to include youth in the policy making process and decision making, not only in the discussion step. Many policies can shape the future of youth and because of that we must include youth who have innovative and creative thinking power.”
The opening ceremony concluded with an address by His Highness Tengku Amir Shah Ibni Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj, the Crown Prince of Selangor. His speech placed particular emphasis on the challenges confronting young individuals in the pursuit of sustainable development, encompassing both systemic and cultural dimensions,
“Youth have a very potential to make a positive change, especially in the digital era. Today’s youth are very concerned about climate action, gender equality, and human rights. With its enthusiasm and creativity, ASEAN must connect young advocates to mentors to provide insight and be able to make a better impact for ASEAN,”
From Declaration to Project Pitching Preparation
The event continued with panel discussions within the context of the three pillars, featuring a roster of subject matter experts. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) segment delved into topics related to the digital economy, the requisite skills for young individuals to navigate the evolving economic landscape, the potential and challenges inherent in the startup environment, and strategies for deriving benefits from the gig economy.
The ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) explored the challenges posed by information consumption in an era of rapid digital information dissemination. The conversation extended into the realm of education with a focus on “Bangun Sekolah,” an NGO endeavor dedicated to empowering youth through targeted schools in rural areas of West Java and Banten.
Lastly, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) panel engaged in discussions concerning inclusive policies for individuals with disabilities and the participation of youth in tobacco control strategies.
The panel discussions are designed to equip delegates and their respective groups with a broader understanding of the issues within each pillar. Each group is granted the opportunity to raise a critical issue within their respective pillar, while other groups are entitled to provide responses, objections, and constructive critiques to enable a more holistic examination of the critical issues.
Following these discussions, each group formulates resolutions that ASEAN and relevant stakeholders should undertake to address the identified problems. The resulting resolutions are expected to serve as an academic foundation for ASEAN in its efforts to address and resolve the issues deliberated during the conference.
On the second day (4/11) the activities transpired at the Ministry of Human Development and Culture Coordination building. During this session, delegates, along with their respective groups, were tasked with devising a project idea for pitching, aimed at addressing the issues previously discussed during the resolution declaration session on the previous day. To provide more explicit guidance and support on project development, two mentors were assigned to each of the three pillars.
Distinguished mentors from diverse backgrounds presented instructional content on how to formulate a strategic blueprint for creating projects that are both executable and sustainable in the long term. The mentors also offered guidance in the project pitching process for each group.
Given the presence of delegates from various countries, the expectation was for these groups to engage in a productive exchange of perspectives and to broaden their viewpoints from a range of international vantage points. This was deemed essential for the development of more cohesive issue identification and the subsequent design of projects to address these issues.
Project Pitching Presentation with Wonderful Gala Night
On the third day (5/11), attendees visited the Bank Indonesia Museum to conduct project presentations, alongside educational tours within the museum and explorations around Kota Tua. Each group had the opportunity to present their projects in front of a panel of three judges, consisting of Senjaya Mulia, the Founder of AYO; Isac HY Kow, the CEO of GB Software Limited; and Hanang Ilham Yohana as the representative of Kemenko PMK RI.
The three judges were highly appreciative of the diverse projects proposed by the groups representing different pillars, as these projects displayed the potential to provide tangible solutions to the challenges faced by ASEAN member countries. Of particular note was the emphasis on the sustainability of the planned projects, with a focus on ongoing implementation rather than short-term solutions.
Following the demanding project presentations and the exploration of the historic Old City of Jakarta, the delegates eagerly anticipated the Gala Night event at the Skyloft All Seasons Hotel in Central Jakarta. Each delegate graced the occasion in traditional attire from their respective countries, symbolizing the cultural diversity within ASEAN.
The Gala Night commenced with the announcement of the best delegation and the recognition of outstanding project presentations from each pillar. AYO committed to supporting the implementation of these winning projects, offering an initial funding of US$700 for each. Furthermore, several delegates from these project groups were selected to represent AYO in a competition to be held in Saudi Arabia.
One of the winners from AEC pillar proposed an idea about a program to guarantee the rights and obligations of interns in the work environment. This was initiated because many interns did not receive their rights, such as not being paid and bullying.
Many delegates expressed their gratitude for holding this conference and hoped that they could implement it when they returned to their respective countries.
“It has been an amazing conference. A lot of you learned, new friendships were built. My hopes after this conference is that we will be able to apply all the learnings that we got from this conference and to be able to give a positive impact in the community,” said Josh, delegates from Philippines.
“I’ve known many new friends here and I gained a lot of knowledge here and my hope when I come back to Malaysia is that I could apply all the knowledge and also new information to my own community,” wished Sharifah, delegates from Malaysia.
Senjaya Mulia, founder of AYO, also encouraged ASEAN and all of the stakeholders to pay more attention to youth development. “Invest to the youth more and more because they are the ranger of change and they are the ones who will fight for the change for around the world.”
AYO as the organizer aims to sustain and build upon the impact it has had through this event, including further engaging and empowering youth leaders and reaching out to more ASEAN youths to create sustainable and actionable change.
“The organization will continue to foster collaboration with international young leaders and change-makers to address persisting challenges and opportunities in society,” said Fara Dzanufiya as Marketing Communication AYO.
AYO holds great optimism regarding the potential impact of our dedicated delegates. Our dedicated delegates exerted significant efforts at the conference, laying the foundation for positive change and development in ASEAN.
“We (AYO) earnestly encourage our delegates to remain actively engaged and maintain their involvement in the organization’s various activities, projects, and initiatives. Your valuable contributions during the conference have demonstrated the power of collective action and the potential for meaningful transformation,” closed Fara.
Editor: Anindya Vania dan Qisthan Ghazi