The 27th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council (ASCC) Meeting was kicked off this morning via videoconference under the presidency of H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports and ASCC Council Chair.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron highlighted this year’s ASCC priorities: (i) Enhance ASEAN values, awareness and identity; (ii) Promote human resource development and women empowerment; (iii) Enhance health, well-being, and social protection for the peoples of ASEAN; and (iv) Strengthen ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community’s institutional capacity and effectiveness. The proposed ASCC priorities, initiatives and deliverables will be reflected in the outcome documents to be adopted and noted at the coming 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits. These initiatives will respond to a wide range of current and future challenges and emergencies.

He also touched upon a wide range of issues, including education, youth development, sports, health cooperation, climate change, ASEAN unity, and Timor-Leste’s membership in ASEAN.

“To date, we have come half way of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 implementation, and most Sectoral Bodies under ASCC have received endorsement on their respective five-year Work Plan 2021-2025. To materialise the second half of the ASCC Blueprint, it is important that Sectoral Bodies integrate the strategies of these initiatives into the Work Plans, with Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Key Result Areas (KRA) and ASCC plays more active coordinating and monitoring roles. The proposed ASEAN Institute for Policy Studies will further improve policy coordination,” he said.

According to H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, education is indeed the future of ASEAN region. Cambodia emphasises the roles of education to create ASEAN Competitiveness. We must turn the Covid-19 crisis into the opportunities to promote digital education and to prepare for industry 4.0. “In this respect, I am sure Honourable ASCC Ministers will join me in support of the Declaration on Digital Transformation of Education System throughout ASEAN. This Declaration will surely complement the previous initiatives including ‘the Roadmap on the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resource Development for the Changing World of Work’ and the ASEAN Education Work Plan 2021-2025,” he added.

Youth development should be at the heart of ASCC work, especially their skills and preparedness for ASEAN Community. The ASEAN Youth Academy Programme should provide a platform for youth exchange and mutual understanding to prepare ground work for harmony and resilience in ASEAN. H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron thus called upon ASEAN to support the year 2022 as the “Year of ASEAN Youth.” ASEAN shall commit to strengthening the role of youth in addressing challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic; ASEAN values, identity, centrality and awareness; coordinate the existing initiatives on youth’s actions to promote ASEAN values, identity, centrality and awareness.

Sport can play an important role in ASEAN community building and the ASEAN Declaration on Fostering ASEAN Identity Through the Safeguarding of Traditional Sports and Games, as well as cooperation in sports and the Southeast Asia Games can unite. ASEAN youth as the driver for regional security, political stability, and peace, he continued.

“We should further promote cooperation in health. To respond to the urgent need for health emergencies preparedness, our meeting will have the opportunity to expedite discussion to reach consensus of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases’ Host Country. ASEAN must be well prepared for new health emergency in the future. Our Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen has launched vaccination campaign which has resulted in over 100% of eligible population received both basic and booster doses, allowing Cambodia to fully reopen the country,” he stressed. “To recover from Covid-19, we must have a framework for a caring economy which focuses on social welfare so that our people from all walks of lives will benefit from the ASEAN Community. Therefore, Cambodia welcomes the proposed ASEAN Aid to help AMS in need.”

Over the long term, he said, Climate change will impact the region the most. ASEAN Climate Change Centre will help ASEAN Member States to develop strategies and action plans to adapt and to cope with climate changes and become a think tank and knowledge hub on climate change.

H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron underlined that ASEAN is a multi-cultural community. We must promote unity in diversity. For that reason, the Siem Reap Declaration on Promoting a Creative and Adaptive ASEAN Community to Support the Cultural and Creative Economy aims to promote inclusive development in ASEAN and set up a Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries.

“Last but not least, taking into account the guidance from ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat held in February 2022, we will have the opportunity to take note of the assessment report of the ASCC pillar on Timor-Leste’s membership application and will discuss the preparation for the Fact-Finding Mission to Timor-Leste, to be conducted within 2022,” he concluded.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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