Intl cooperation remains key to youth empowerment

James Kon

International youth cooperation, through ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners, continues to be a key factor for the continuous empowerment of Bruneian youth, said Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin.

The minister was speaking at the ASEAN Youth Leaders’ Conference in line with the 37th ASEAN Summit, held via video conference on November 3.

The minister shared his views on youth development in Brunei Darussalam, describing them as “more empowered, opinionated, bolder and action-oriented, reflected through their successes in many fields, including a variety of professions, entrepreneurship, creative arts, digital economy, volunteerism and active contribution in nation-building”.

He added, “The youth have also been involved at the strategic level, particularly in the formulation of national-level policies, such as the review of the Brunei Darussalam National Youth Policy, the National Climate Change Policy and the Digital Economy Masterplan 2025. It is important to translate their ideas and recommendations into practical actions.”

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan reiterated the importance of international youth cooperation through ASEAN and Dialogue Partners, saying, “The three key areas where regional cooperation and connection have contributed towards the development of the youth and subsequently the communities are the continuous engagement of youth directly at the grassroots level through volunteerism, in line with ASEAN’s priority to develop a caring ASEAN Community; the importance of digital transformation to enable the youth to embrace the new normal, nurture a growth mindset and become adaptable, such as the ‘Go Digital ASEAN’ initiative that aims to equip 4,000 micro-entrepreneurs and under-employed youths with technological skills and tools in Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN; the role of youths in setting up virtual markets in the country, as well as the drive towards a ‘gig economy’.

These initiatives are consistent with the findings of the ‘ASEAN Youth Survey 2020’ conducted by the World Economic Forum.

“Meanwhile, to give vulnerable youth the correct capacity-building platforms and support so they are not left behind by building on current initiatives, both government and non-government organisations have and will continue to provide lifelong learning, skills training, entrepreneurship development programmes, as well as creating accessible platforms to produce self-reliant and resilient youths capable of seizing and maximising all opportunities, as well as to overcome any challenges they face.”

In concluding his statement, the minister urged for ASEAN to collectively move forward together with ASEAN’s strategic partners in expanding digital access, promoting digital skills, and providing essential funding support to enable all ASEAN youth to embrace the new normal and become future-ready, in line with the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth.

Chaired by Chairman of the National Committee on Youth of Vietnam and Permanent Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Nguyen Anh Tuan, the conference was attended by ASEAN ministers responsible for youth affairs and their representatives, as well as the Secretary General of ASEAN.

During the conference, ASEAN ministers and representatives responsible for youth adopted the Joint Statement of ASEAN Youth Ministers on Enhancing Youth Cooperation for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community, for notation of the 37th ASEAN Summit to be held in November.

The joint statement, among others, stated their commitment to work hand in hand with ASEAN youth to unleash the opportunities created by the new normal so that youth may continue to contribute in developing each nation and ASEAN as a whole; increase the multilateral and bilateral dialogues, meetings and forms among ASEAN youth agencies and organisations in all levels; effectively implement the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2021-2025 which focusses on Education, Health and Well-being, Employment and Opportunity; participation and engagement; and ASEAN Awareness, Values and Identities.

The ministers are also committed on nurturing volunteerism and creativity and innovative mindsets among youth through youth entrepreneurship, as well as ensuring inclusivity and sustainability in skills developments in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0).

The ministers look forward to the ASEAN Youth Development Index Phase II and the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2021 – 2025, as a holistic approach to preparing ASEAN youth for the challenges brought about by IR 4.0 in the post-pandemic era, through transformative approaches in human resource development.

Also in attendance were Permanent Secretary (Administration, Finance and Estate) at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Pengiran Mohd Amirrizal bin Pengiran Haji Mahmud, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Youth and Sports) Colonel (Rtd) Pengiran Haji Maiddin bin Pengiran Haji Said and senior officials from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.