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EU-ASEAN Young Leaders Forum
By Ananya Hemvjitraphan, Pachara Aungsusuknarumol and Johanna Sutton
It is exciting to see so much energy brought by the youth leaders as they come together in Brussels to make recommendations regarding the most pressing topics: political and security issues, economy, trade and business exchanges, and people-to-people contacts at the EU-ASEAN Young Leaders Forum on 26 February 2018.
On Political and Security Issues
The youth which we represent here today are stakeholders in global security, and an inter-regional forum such as this is an ideal place to talk about global challenges and the EU and ASEAN’s role in facing them.
The 'end of politics' has not materialised, and we can argue that geopolitics have returned to Europe (if they ever went away). Crises which remain unresolved in both regions, notably the dispute in the South China Sea and the Ukraine crisis in Europe, were brought up as case studies. The delegates discussed the importance of international norms, and encouraged both the EU and ASEAN to continue to support the international rules based order.
The young leaders' recommendations address issues which concern us most, which will affect us in decades to come and where we think the EU and ASEAN can have a strong impact.
On Economy, Trade and Business Exchanges
There is a high level of open-mindedness among the young leaders, despite our differences in economic and political situations. Firstly, we all strive for a common goal: sustainable development. It is at the top of our agenda and we are looking for ways in which we can fuel economic growth without harming future generations. Secondly, we see opportunity to better promote public awareness of trade and economic activities by the EU and ASEAN, specifically on communications around the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Lastly, we see the EU-ASEAN partnership as an exciting opportunity for employment and entrepreneurship.
On People-to-People contacts
Regarding people-to-people contacts, participants have discussed various topics ranging from student exchange programmes, model meetings, language barriers and awareness of ASEAN. "I have asked my mom, my dad and my brother, they have no idea what ASEAN is," said Ryan Kelle, a delegate from the Netherlands. Youth leaders have also further suggested that the knowledge and awareness of coming together should come early in the learning process. More history and content regarding other regions should be included in the curriculum of formal education. "One without a driver license should not be allowed to drive," suggested Yi Jun, a representative from Singapore.
The Young Leaders Forum has resulted in concrete suggestions, and we look forward to seeing what influence they will have on the Forum of Strategic Thinkers and EU-ASEAN relations in the future. We hope that the Young Leaders Forum will become a recurring event, with representatives selected to represent regions and specific expertise, to refine ideas as we go forward. A recurring theme in the day’s debates was how the EU and ASEAN could lead by example to address global challenges in an uncertain geopolitical context.
We call on the EU and ASEAN to use their influence for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and for peace, prosperity and stability.