JOINT STATEMENT
19th AUN and 8th ASEAN+3 Educational Forum and Young Speakers’ Contest
“Social Sustainability in ASEAN Plus Three: The Challenges of Inclusive Growth”
I. INTRODUCTION

1. We, the students of the ASEAN University Network (AUN) Member Universities and the Plus Three countries, gathered on 13 June 2019 at Chiang Mai University, on the occasion of the 19th AUN and 8thASEAN+3 Educational Forum and Young Speakers’ Contest.

2. We acknowledge with appreciation the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together which the ASEAN Member States underlined the complementarity of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with ASEAN community building efforts to uplift the standards of living of our peoples. We noted the ongoing efforts of the ASEAN Member States and the United Nations to enhance complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and noted the identified priority cross-cutting areas that could serve as “catalysts” in promoting such complementarities, including resilience, infrastructure, sustainable consumption and production, poverty eradication, and sustainable management of natural resources.

3. We acknowledge with satisfaction the effort of Thailand as the Chair of ASEAN for the year 2019 to discharge their responsibilities and realize the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” that seek to achieve a people-centred ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind and is fully prepared for the future.

4. We realize that economic growth is necessary and important for national development. However, apart from achieving GDP/GNP growth, successful national development also have to satisfy the basic needs of the people in terms of employment, income distribution, poverty elimination, social and environmental protection, and balanced regional development.

5. To streamline national policy with the complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we called on the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Member Countries to adopt social sustainability and equality as the first priority of national development agenda.

6. We, as future leaders, hereby declare the following recommendations with regard to the achievement of social sustainability for inclusive growth and balanced development of APT region.


II. RECOGNIZING THE CHALLENGES OF INCLUSIVE GROWTH
A. ECONOMIC ISSUES

Recognizing the occurrence of unfair practices and biased employment in aspects such as but not limited to cultural differences, religion and gender;

Acknowledging the health issues rising from stressful working conditions;

Realizing the increasing number of fresh graduates being unemployed in the region as an effect of stereotypes in work types and lack of competencies;

Alarmed by the lack of employment opportunities and spikes in unemployment rates within the APT region in the past two years;

Recognizing the lack of infrastructure to increase investment such as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI);

Observing the implementation of trade regulations in some of the APT Member Countries which create trade barriers that limit investment flow between member countries;

Keeping in mind the rapid rate of innovation and the transformation of technologies that require APT to be build competencies in coping with the digital transformation;

Alarmed by the consequences of the digital divide which creates a gap between different countries and regions such as information disparity on available opportunities.

B. SOCIAL ISSUES

Noting with concern the mismanagement of governmental education funds that can affect the lack of sufficient financial support for education along with the rising cost of higher education;

Acknowledging the low quality of education shown by the lack of skilled teachers, and non-compatible curriculum;

Realizing the low rate of digital usage for educational purposes that limits competencies for the technology transformation;

Alarmed by the existing inequality of education between urban and rural areas;

Realizing that people with disabilities lack of access to education and job opportunities;

Noting the geographical disparity of regions both nationally and regionally along with its impact on the public access to government services;

Noting with deep concern the large number of APT populations still struggling with poverty and accessibility to shelter and healthcare as well as to achieve social mobility;

Recognizing the increasing payment for health as well as the lack of accessibility and facility for healthcare in several regions in the countries, as shown by the imbalance of medical resources and infrastructure.

C. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Recognizing serious environmental problems such as water pollution, air pollution, climate change, and the availability of potable water and biodiversity exist due to rapid development;

Noting with deep concern the development paradigm which prioritizes economic development without regard to environmental conditions;

Acknowledging the lack of firmness in implementing environmental regulations in response to the unfriendly-environmental development;

Recognizing that waste generated due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, population growth, and improved life-styles is not properly managed;

Gravely concerned about the lack of synergy between the government, private sector, local community, academics, and environmentalists in making waste management regulation and its implementation;

Recognizing the lack of public awareness about the importance of reducing and managing waste to protect the environment;

Highlighting the lack of responsibility and accountability of the production and consumption sectors in reducing the quantity of waste.


III. RECOMMENDATIONS TO SUSTAIN SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH
A. ECONOMIC ISSUES

As the future leaders of APT region, we:

1. Strongly suggest the creation of inclusive capacity-building measures that aim to improve labour force competencies through:
a. Training programs for marginalized communities; b. Strengthening public-private partnerships to enlist the help of corporations and governmental units in enhancing the workplace skill sets of fresh graduates.
2. Recommending the implementation of projects that encourage foreign support in employment and economic growth such as but not limited to:
a. Reservation policies that ensure the enrichment of human capital resources from local areas; b. Establishment of special economic zones to generate opportunities for employment and economic growth.
3. Calling upon APT Countries to put employee security at the forefront of its employment reforms by:
a. Efficiently monitoring the fulfilment of employee contracts and its every stipulation;
b. Identifying a guideline for the definition of conditions and aspects of the workplace such as but not limited to:
i. Health benefits;
ii. Fair wages;
iii. Working hours;
iv. Employment opportunities
4. Calling upon the government and non-government bodies in APT to strengthen the region’s global competitiveness through the creation of a framework that ensures efficient logistical transactions in the APT region inclusive of:
a. APT Resource Database containing suppliers and service providers;
b. Defining quality assurance measures in products coursed through the APT Members;
c. Enhancing and integrating trade routes to ensure cost-efficiency.
5. Urging Member States to shift from deploying regional competition strategies and reaffirm the vision of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration by:
a. Ensuring mutualism in benefits received from deals made within the APT region;
b. Promote tax incentives concerning imports and exports to uplift respective economic industries;
c. Establish a safe investment environment to encourage investiture and stimulate macro-economic growth.
6. Encouraging the creation of an ASEAN Digital Innovation Work Plan that identifies key performance indicators and goals the body must achieve under a given time frame for the assurance of preparedness in the era of digital transformation including:
a. Investing in infrastructure for connectivity especially in rural areas across the region;
b. Promoting progressive internet penetration and open data usage across APT to achieve equitable digital access;
c. Accompany improvements in digital access with efficient data management.
7. Strongly suggesting APT Member Countries to live by the spirit of the ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and strengthen communication mechanisms by practicing the following:
a. Improving data-sharing tools for an exchange of economic growth best practices in every country;
b. Raising the standard and frequency of transparency reports;
c. Strengthening the culture of community.
B. SOCIAL ISSUES

We recognize the role of education as one of the most prominent aspects in achieving inclusive economic growth while also maintaining the political and socio-cultural sustainability, hereby we:

8. Recommend the broadening of options in student loans in order to maintain their productivity, in which the providers — such as corporations, banks, universities and other institutions — will receive their payments through an employment bond, or in which the students will be waived from repayment based on their merit;
9. Calling upon the governments in APT Countries to increase public transparency of their budgeting and spending in regards to educational purposes, thereby becoming more accountable in providing governmental education funds and preventing intangible losses hereof;
10. Requesting APT Countries to further cooperate for students within the region to increase educational quality, which would be implemented not only through regular study-abroad scholarships but also:
a. Teacher trainings, both conventionally and remotely;
b. Volunteering exchange programs to teach in another country;
c. A national standardized curriculum;
d. The usage of digital technology for educational purposes.
11. Expressing hope for APT Countries to provide more educational opportunities for people with disabilities by creating inclusive platforms such as but not limited to:
a. Conventional platforms that cater to disabled students;
b. Subjects or classes on teaching and learning methods for people with disabilities;
c. Vocational schools as an alternative for the disabled students.
12. Recommending the improvement of community medical infrastructure in order to increase the quality and equality of healthcare in each country, especially in rural areas, through programs such as but not limited to:
a. Mobile healthcare and community clinics;
b. Better access to healthier food environments;
c. Identification mechanisms to reach out to communities in need of assistance.
13. Suggesting the enhancement of commitments to provide equitable aid to citizens that fall below the poverty line, in the form of:
a. Subsidized insurance;
b. Low-cost housing
C. ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

In order to achieve environmental sustainability as mentioned in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and ASEAN Socio-cultural Community Blueprint 2025, we:

14. Strongly suggest the establishment of relevant governmental mechanisms and agencies in APT Countries to take action upon the following:
a. Making holistic laws and regulations through a multidimensional approach encompassing an incentive and penalty system;
b. Encouraging the youth to engage in volunteer activities and scientific research on environmental issues;
c. Creating favorable policies under national capacities to increase investments in waste management industries;
d. Strengthening collaboration in resource mobilization from more technologically-advanced APT Countries to the rest of the region in terms of green technology;
e. Encouraging multisectoral commitment to reduce waste production by inculcating sustainable changes in habits, practices, businesses, and the like;
f. Enhancing the monitoring protocols performed by the ASEAN Cooperation on Environment with regards to conformance to environmental policies and laws.
15. Recommending educational institutions from APT Countries to act upon the following:
a. Promoting public awareness by increasing discussions and providing platforms for sharing experiences and knowledge on environmental issues and resolutions;
b. Incorporating environmental education (including eco-school practice and environmental ethics) in national curriculums;
c. Developing a cooperative network among the youth in APT Countries to adopt sustainable living in all aspects.
16. Calling upon non-governmental sectors to actively participate in achieving environmental sustainability by:
a. Strengthening public and private partnership (PPP) for eco-technology as a means of saving the environment for the following:
i. financial support;
ii. research and development;
iii. full implementation and monitoring
b. Sponsoring programs and activities that encourage the youth to raise a consciousness on protecting the environment and eliminating wasting behavior;
c. Advocating for the adoption of polluters-pay principle under national capacities;
d. Advocating for shared responsibilities among different stakeholders in waste management and environmental sustainability.

IV. CLOSING

The recognition of this Joint Statement will be accomplished through enhanced cooperation among the network of the APT students and relevant stakeholders. This Joint Statement will be submitted to the APT Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY) through the ASEAN Secretariat.

Adopted in Chiang Mai, Thailand this 13 June 2019

Acknowledged by:
The student participants of the 19th AUN and 8th ASEAN+3 Educational Forum and Young Speakers’ Contest.