ASEAN care economy comes into focus

Izah Azahari

The term “no one is left behind” is synonymous with the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and its sustainable development goals (SDGs).

This was shared by 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 as Chair of the ASEAN Soci-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council 2021 during his ‘ASEAN’s Care Economy: How can ASEAN ensure no one is left behind?’ presentation at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2021.

“In facing an increasingly challenging world, the underlying message of the ASEAN Care Economy is for us to pay greater attention to how care can contribute towards the sustainable economic growth of the region.”

The minister highlighted that the theme of this year’s ABIS, ‘Building Our Sustainable Digital Future’, strongly resonates with the work in ASCC that highlights the cross-cutting nature of socio-economic development.

“The disruptive impacts of COVID-19 on every sector of the ASEAN community reminds us that the effects of the pandemic go beyond health alone,” said the minister, reiterating Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme this year, ‘We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper’, underscores ASEAN’s collective pursuit in improving the people’s well-being and livelihoods during these challenging times, when collective action takes on even greater urgency than before.

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 giving a presentation. PHOTO: IZAH AZAHARI

“Current data suggests that the Care Economy could create up to 475 million jobs to achieve SDGs in 2030. This is why it is vital to advance the Care Economy in ASEAN,” said the minister, adding that the comprehensive framework on care economy will chart out the strategic priorities, not only by addressing the growing challenges of sustaining investments in care in the region, but also to reframe more comprehensive, enabling and supporting ASEAN Care policies, building back better, and among others, by taking advantage of the advancement of digitalisation, and the opportunities brought about by the fourth industrial revolution.

“Being cross-cutting in nature, the framework will complement the work of other pillars through the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, our region’s exit strategy from the pandemic, and our ongoing work towards the ASEAN post-2025 Vision,” he said. “It will reaffirm our region as a caring ASEAN, prepared for future opportunities and challenges, while prospering together sustainably.”

Within the ASEAN Comprehensive Framework on the Care Economy, the minister outlined six broad strategic priorities to address current and future needs arising from demographic change, societal inequalities, and sustainable development challenges, expected to support and guide in developing core economies in the region.

The strategies include looking into promoting healthy ageing and leveraging opportunities in the ageing societies in the region; enhancing the role of the Care Economy in building a disaster-resilient ASEAN; accelerating technological innovations and digital transformation of the Care Economy in ASEAN; the need to build stronger and resilient families as the foundation of Care Economy; enhancing societal protection; and the need to consider resilience and care for the environment.

“Overall, ASEAN is working together to realise shared interests, to face regional and global challenges of common concerns. We wish to enable ASEAN people to thrive, prosper and secure sustainable development, for the benefit of present and future generations,” said Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan.

As the region recovers from the pandemic, the minister said new opportunities in programmes and partnerships need to be leveraged on, as harnessing these opportunities in areas of the Care Economy will not only help member states to reach their sustainability objectives, but also allow ASEAN to remain an attractive and conducive investment and partnership proposition to the world.

“As we move to sustain the momentum of recovery, the support of the government, private sector, the community, as well as our partners and stakeholders will be crucial. Let us continue our strong partnership and cooperation to ensure that these SDG-related opportunities can bring tangible impact to the countries and ASEAN people.”