SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Efforts to step up collaboration between youth leaders across Asean in key areas like sustainability are going ahead despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the next five days, 33 delegates from all 10 of the association's member states will take part in the 3rd Asean Youth Fellowship, which was postponed last year due to the pandemic.
Launching the programme on Wednesday (Oct 27), Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said Asean youth have shown remarkable pluck and promise in facing up to regional challenges, such as the social and economic problems brought on by the pandemic, and those surrounding climate change and sustainability.
He told the delegates: "(Asean youth) are taking the future into their own hands, and moulding it gently but firmly into a bigger, better and brighter one.
"I encourage you to reach out openly and enthusiastically, to find out more about the stories of your fellow participants, and the possibilities you can unlock together."
The programme of dialogue with industry leaders and team-building sessions was organised by the National Youth Council and Singapore International Foundation, and open via application or nomination to people roughly between the ages of 27 and 35 who are leaders in their communities beyond their professional work.
As one of Singapore's 10 representatives, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Hamid Razak, 36, said he was looking forward to learning more about the public healthcare systems of various Asean countries.
Dr Hamid, who is also an assistant professor at Duke-NUS Medical School and adjunct teaching faculty at the National University of Singapore's and Nanyang Technological University's schools of medicine, said: "I'm also interested in having discussions about issues on sustainability regarding the medical industry and medical waste."
He added that as someone who is also involved in mentoring outside his professional work, he will use the fellowship as an opportunity to network and meet potential mentors.
A participant from Jakarta, business development head Cynthia Handriani Wijaya, 27, said achieving sustainable development goals for Indonesia is not possible without the support of other Asean countries.
Wijaya who works for Daya Selaras Group, a sustainability company focusing on paper packaging, said: "People who have been working in the sustainability industry know that it is a long-term journey, meaning that seeing the immediate impact of your work can be quite challenging.
"In order to bring a lasting and larger change, it is impossible to work alone. We need all 10 Asean countries to work together, and I do believe there are opportunities for that."