Jakarta: Senior Officials of the youth sector from across ASEAN Member States participated in the Tenth Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY X) and the Ninth ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (9th SOMY+3). The meetings took place virtually on October 22-23.
The Lao Youth Union hosted the back-to-back meetings chaired by the Director General of the International Relations and Cooperation Department Somkiao Kingsada. The senior officials discussed the sector’s progress since their last meetings in 2019 and reviewed the implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020.
The meetings provided a venue for the youth sector to strategise on the next phase of regional youth cooperation. The development of the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2021-2025 and the ASEAN Plus Three Work Plan on Youth 2021-2025, the ASEAN Youth Programme Fund, and key youth initiatives under Viet Nam’s 2020 ASEAN chairship were also part of the meeting’s agenda.
"Participating Senior Youth Officials exchanged experiences on how the covid-19 pandemic has affected their youth populations," stated the ASEAN Secretariat in a press release issued on Tuesday.
They shared the view that the pandemic can create a momentum to accelerate digital transformation in the region and foster adaptability and resilience among ASEAN youth. They also highlighted education, livelihood, health and wellbeing as areas that are severely impacted by covid-19 restrictions.
The officials then shared their national response efforts, including cross-ministry/agency collaboration to address youth unemployment as well as ensuring access to technology and affordable internet.
Partner organisations such as the ASEAN Foundation, ASEAN University Network, ASEAN University Student Council Union, Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and UNICEF shared in the open session updates on activities supporting the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020. Further, they proposed potential collaborative activities for the next five-year youth work plan.
Senior Youth Officials from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea interfaced with their ASEAN counterparts in the 9th SOMY+3. Director General Kingsada and Japan’s Director for International Youth Exchange Cabinet Office Furuya Ichiro co-chaired the meeting.
Discussions at 9th SOMY+3 revolved around cooperation with the Plus Three Countries on youth development and the adverse impacts of covid-19 on youth exchange programmes led by the ASEAN Plus Three. The meeting also discussed the preparation of the ASEAN Plus Three Work Plan on Youth 2021-2025.
In the next five years, the ASEAN youth sector has set as its strategic priorities Education, Health and Wellbeing, Employment and Opportunity, Participation and Engagement, and ASEAN Awareness, Values and Identity. These five priority areas align with the key domains of the ASEAN Youth Development Index.
SOMY was established in 2002 as a regional body consisting of national agencies responsible for youth development.