Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr pushes for ASEAN youth empowerment

2023 May 10

YOUTH EMPOWERMENT. Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations hold the 42nd ASEAN Summit Plenary Session at the Meruorah Komodo Convention Center in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia on Wednesday (May 10, 2023). In his intervention during the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Youth, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. called on the member-states of the regional bloc to support initiatives aimed at empowering the youth

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday called on the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to support initiatives aimed at empowering the youth.

Marcos made the call, as he acknowledged the young leaders’ crucial role in addressing pressing challenges, such as climate change, environment and biodiversity, and peace and security.

In his intervention during the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Youth, Marcos emphasized that the regional bloc’s future lies in its ability to develop the young people who now have vast knowledge when it comes to traditional and social media.

Highlighting the exponential growth of the digital realm and the world’s increasing dependence on digital tools, Marcos said the region needs to be “future-ready” to make it competitive in the global arena.

The President said youth involvement and participation would help the regional bloc remain the “epicentrum of growth.”

“It is clear again that the future of ASEAN lies in our ability to support the youth in attaining their full potential. And this we must do by providing the skills and motivation to be ready for this future. Empowering the ASEAN youth and ensuring that ASEAN will remain the epicentrum of growth and undoubtedly contribute to the realization of our shared vision of prosperity and peace for all,” he said. “We must always put front and center all the issues that we face or that our young people face and that our country face the consequence of time.”

The ASEAN should take immediate action to prepare the youth to seize opportunities in the digital and creative economies, Marcos said.

He said activities, such as the ASEAN Youth Dialogue and the ASEAN Junior Fellowship Program, are avenues that could help hone the youth’s leadership skills and competencies.

“We must ensure that they are well equipped to not only compete globally, but also to develop expertise, forge linkages, and establish leadership in these fields… strengthening youth people-to-people exchanges to facilitate the free flow of ideas and the transfer of skills is critical,” he said.

Marcos noted that young Filipinos are worthy of emulation, considering that they are at the forefront of advocacies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate in the Philippines.

He noted that one of the Filipino youths’ initiatives is leading the declaration of the annual ASEAN Youth in Climate Action and Disaster Resilience Day every Nov. 25 to promote awareness and provoke positive action among the young generations to address climate change and galvanize disaster risk reduction efforts.

He said the efforts of the Filipino youth should be replicated throughout all of ASEAN.

“Since 2018, the Philippines, with the support of various partners and stakeholders, has ensured the conduct of annual celebrations and involvement of youth leaders from all ASEAN member-states in the activities,” Marcos said.

Aging population

Meanwhile, Marcos said the ASEAN should start discussing the concerns of the aging population, consistent with the region’s tradition of valuing the elderly.

He made the call during the 42nd ASEAN Summit Plenary Session.

Marcos said these issues must be viewed “both as an opportunity and as a challenge, especially in terms of adequate social benefits on the one hand and social empowerment on the other.”

“Decades of sustained economic growth and prosperity has resulted in longer lifespans in ASEAN. According to the Asian Development Bank, one out of four people in the Asia Pacific will be over the age of 60 by the year 2050,” he said. “ASEAN goals and work plans should ensure health for our elders, a safe and dignified, and productive life.” 

Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos (PNA)