The Meeting reiterated an important position that young generations, especially young professionals, can play to boost ASEAN solidarity by offering voluntary community services in areas such as rural development, disaster relief, health, education and the environment as well as supporting vulnerable groups, including people who are differently-abled, and fostering entrepreneurial skills. The Meeting also discussed the unemployment crisis that millions of young people are facing around the globe.
The Bruneian Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair, pointed out that the global trend in youth unemployment was "alarming" with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) projecting more than 73 million jobless young people this year, and "ASEAN is not immune to this global crisis," he said in his opening remarks. He added that ASEAN should not allow ourselves to become complacent, and youth employment should be a priority issue in ASEAN cooperation. Acting as the Chair of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council, YB Pehin Dato Hj Hazair also called for an urgent need to promote entrepreneurship and volunteerism among young people to help combat youth unemployment in the ASEAN region.
The Meeting noted with satisfaction the 1st ASEAN Youth Entrepreneur Seminar and Expo, which serves as a platform for promoting economic self-reliance and support the self-employment of the ASEAN youths.
The Meeting endorsed the “Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on Youth Volunteerism and Entrepreneurship” as guiding principles to promote greater economic self-reliance among young people through enterprise and entrepreneurship development. The Meeting also endorsed several initiatives that instill a sense of community including the establishment of an ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program (AYVP) and other youth professional volunteer initiatives. ASEAN Youth Program Fund (AYPF) was established to further support the ASEAN youth cooperation and development.
In cooperation with China, Japan and Republic of Korea, various issues and topics on youth were discussed. “Around 60% of ASEAN population today comprises of those under 35 years old and they are the driving force to shape our future. In tandem with the aspiration of a people-oriented ASEAN, the youth of ASEAN and its Plus Three partners represents one of ASEAN’s greatest assets and one of the most important groups in ASEAN that will help ASEAN realise its vision of the Community by 2015”, said H.E. Alicia R. Bala, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
China, Japan and Korea noted the desire and commitment of ASEAN towards youth development and promoting their roles to build an ASEAN of tomorrow. They agreed that youths are not only the key stakeholders to the future of Asean but also in a larger East Asia context.
The Meeting noted that a new phase of the ASEAN-China Youth Camp and ASEAN Youth Leaders Training Program will be implemented by China; the second installment of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS 2.0) by Japan; and the 4th ASEAN-Korea Frontier Forum (AKFF) by ROK in 2013. They were informed that these would help to further strengthen cooperation among youths in ASEAN and the Plus Three countries whilst promoting relations to a higher and more strategic level.
The Meeting also recognised the potential to work with other ASEAN Dialogue Partners to further enhance efforts in youth development in the region.
The next ministerial meetings will be held in Cambodia in 2015.