ASEAN Youth Organization will conduct a conference for youth leaders and change makers in Thailand on 5-8 November 2019. The event is calling all young generations aged 17-27 years across Southeast Asia who wants to contribute in making changes on issues related to the three pillars of ASEAN: ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio Cultural Community (ASCC).

            ASEAN Youth Organization is an international non-partisan, non-profit, and non-governmental organization established to promote international understanding and goodwill parallel to the ASEAN Motto and constitutes one vision, one identity, and one community. AYO’s vision is to create the world where youth exhibit a heightened interest on ASEAN through our activities that Empower Youth, Engage communities to instill and implement ideas that enables Positive Sustainable Change.

            High-level speakers and practitioners from three pillars of ASEAN will attend the conference not just to give presentation, but also act as moderators to educate the youths. Moreover, discussion will also be held to stimulate the critical-thinking ability of the youths. Ergo, making a bigger #IMPACT for the lives of the youths and ASEAN Community.

            After the event ends on October 26th 2019, the participants will be given tasks and assignment for further implementation of the actions planned on the conference. The delegates will be given to implement the project proposal with the help of the A.Y.O country representative and shall later be evaluated by A.Y.O officers.


Pollution in the Rural Environment and Solution. During my role at the Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD), an NGO supporting sustainable development, while alleviating inequality and poverty, I have opportunities to work for the balance of Environment and Society of the most vulnerable groups in Vietnam, from poor women, ethnic groups, children and people with disabilities. One of our longest and most difficult projects is “Agricultural Conservation and Coping with Climate Change in Rural Areas”. This long-term project mainly focuses on addressing serious environmental pollution, poverty and potential risks of Climate Change in rural areas in Vietnam.

Context and reason
In Vietnam, the rural area accounts for 75% of the country’s area and about 60% of the employees working in the agricultural sector. Vietnam, moreover, is a coastal country, which is an important border gate of the Asian mainland area. This is a country with a coastline of more than 3000km. Our agriculture is mainly wet rice, concentrated in coastal areas and low plains. If climate change becomes more serious, these areas will suffer firstly. This means that 75% of Vietnamese area will be affected negatively; Agriculture, a key economic sector of our country will be affected negatively and 60% of my country’s employee will be affected negatively. Therefore, I focus on solving the problem of rural areas. These are key areas, also the vulnerable areas. Rural environmental pollution entails dangerous diseases for rural people, affecting the economy and social secure, increasing the risk of climate change.

Cause of pollution
Because of the poor infrastructure conditions and greatly influence of traditioal customs and backward habits, the rural living environment have been adversely affected. People are not aware of environmental protection, so cattle breeding is free, cattle manure is scattered around the house and along the road. These make unpleasant smell, especially in hot and dry weather, like summer. Then, the rain washes these animal manure away, polluting the water source. Also, people may capture cattle under the floor, then the animal manure seriously pollutes the living environment of family members. In addition, poor temporary tolets are made near the house, leaving unpleasant smell. The rain washes these human feces away, polluting water sources and generating flies and mosquitoes, causing disease and sickeness, such as intestinal diseases, eye pain, respiratory infections, cancer … for many rural people. In addition, farmers use all kinds of toxic chemicals in agriculture (pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, fertilizer …). After spraying these toxic chemicals, farmers often wash pump bottles and pour redundant chemical waste in anywhere, even the water sources. The packaging and bottles containing toxic chemicals are discarded around the house, around ditches or on fields. That has directly affected the daily water source and is a premise for arising diseases that farmers cannot immediately recognize. In addition, in rural areas, waste is not collected and classified, people are free to dispose of waste (agricultural bags, dead animals, household waste products …) into their surrounding environment, plus the scattered animal and poultry manure, makes the environment more polluted. If there is no proper method of capturing, collecting and processing animal manure and agircutural waste, the problem of environmental pollution in rural areas will be more and more serious. Therefore, we need a thorough and systematic solution to deal with every problem that the rural environment and rural people are facing.

To solve the problem of agricultural chemicals abuse, our NGO has implemented and organized many technical training courses on ecological agriculture such as SRI method (System of Rice Intensification), an eco-farming method which bring high efficiency and productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on technical impacts to reduce input costs such as seed, fertilizer, pesticides, irrigation water. We also organized training activities of utilizing agricultural by-products for composting organic fertilizers, guiding farmers and students to make bio-pesticides from biological by-products. In the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam, we taugh people on how to make pesticides from green fungi, which can kill brown hoppers and white aphids in rice plants. In addition, in the future, we plan to carry out many lobbying activities, directly linking with the government authorities, the Plant Protection Department and the environmental police to continuously monitor the input of agriculture, thoroughly eliminate and completely remove toxic chemicals in irrigated agricultural sector.

Regarding air pollution by animal manure, our NGO has jointly researched the methods of raising chickens on biological pads, making probiotics in biological pads, raising earthworms to deodorize animal manure and raise chickens (earthworms can also be used as a source of food for poultry and cattle because of high protein content) and then organized training classes for more than 140 farming communes in Vietnam, accounting for 56% of rural areas nationwide. Farmers of our project were able to make their own probiotics from yeast to actively deodorize animal manure and make biological pads in chicken farming.
In addition, our organization also disseminates smart watering systems, intensive chicken farming systems, and advanced livestock farming systems for farmers. However, due to limited financial conditions, not many rural households can apply.

Moreover, when there are no financial conditions and when immediate profits or quantity are not seen yet, farmers often have no incentive to implement these systems. We can overcome this by credit funds, village funds and financial support for rural people. In addition, it is possible to apply a cooperative model. It means many households and individuals in the commune contribute money, labor days and materials to build a smart breeding and irrigation system. The quantity and profit is divided by the amount of effort and captital contributed.
As a project officer who has worked in this project for a long time, I think we should also have more activities that contribute to building society, life and economy for rural areas comprehensively through agriculture. One thing that I have proposed and definitely pursue is that: Besides disseminate and introduce new varieties of rice that are adaptable to climate change, we could research, develop and preserve the local varieties of rice. It contributes to preserving the local tradition. In Vietnam, we have more than 50 rice varieties, feature and symbol for more than 20 different rural areas. Some of them are currently disappear gradually because of the changing weather conditions. Climate Change cause saline intrusion, therefore rice varieties are unable to resist water and salinity. Therefore, research, improvement and development to maintain and protect these rice varieties is very important to preserve the local identity and brand of Vietnamese rice.

In my opinion, environmental and social issues must be thoroughly addressed by scientific and technological advances. In Vietnam, a country that has not strong education, the propaganda, education, mobilization in rural areas have been implemented for decades before but not effective. Since Vietnam joined international organizations, the relationship network becomes much stronger, science and technology has been introduced into our country, making environmental and social problems really improved. Therefore, I boldly propose that all root issues of the environment and society must be implemented from research and development of Science and technology.

By Nguyen Ngoc Huyen, Vietnam
ASEAN Youth Exchange 2019 delegates
Environmental Activist and Youth Leader


Philippine Economic Problems : various contributing factors and it’s correlation between Poverty and Health. Good economical conditions are probably one of the most important factors needed to ensure stability, peace amongst nations and thriving human culture. But we can’t deny the fact that most countries in Southeast Asia are suffering from different economical issues and disparity. Inspite of the technological advancements of this modern day ,why is it there are still countries suffering from economic crisis?  Why is it people in some countries having faster economic growth still suffers from poverty? Economic disparity amongst ASEAN country is probably one of the main agendas that should be tackle this year .Even without any information to back it up we can’t deny the fact that poverty is one of the main problem we are facing today. These economic issues can furthermore  lead to other problems in socio-cultural pillar of ASEAN.

These economic issues that most countries has face can be link to the economic problems of the Philippines.Philippines  is an archipelagic country which are made up mostly of more than 7,000 islands located in relation to many of Southeast Asia’s main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait ,it is also rich and abundant in natural resources and has a high level of biodiversity .It is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation since the ASEAN was founded on August 1967.The Philippine economy is an example of mixed economy which includes a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. According to the 2017 estimate of the International Monetary Fund’s statistics ,Philippines ranks as the world’s 34th largest economy by nominal GDP ,it is also the 13th largest economy in Asia and the 3rd largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia and Thailand.Its culture like other Southeast Asian countries was influenced by the European and American power, making it a new home of diverse culture and ethnicity. But despite of all of these claims why is it most of its people are still suffering from poverty?

Despite of the economic growth, we can’t deny the fact that poverty rates are still on its highest, even though Philippines has a fast growing economy the declination of poverty rates is very sluggish. Thus ,poverty is also linked to certain economic problems that we cannot ignore, these problems also are the main reason why Filipinos suffered from poverty. These economic problems are the higher rate of unemployment, lack of education, insufficient facilities and poor infrastructure, dependence of overseas remittances and corruption.

 The unemployment rate, according to the report published by the Trading Economics “the unemployment rate of the Philippines dropped to 5.4 percent in the September quarter of 2018 from 5.6 percent a year ago. The number of unemployed persons went down by 50 thousand to 2.32 million while the number of employed increased by 488 thousand to 40.66 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate declined to 60.1 percent from 60.6 percent.  Unemployment Rate in Philippines averaged 8.41 percent from 1994 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 13.90 percent in the first quarter of 2000 and a record low of 4.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016”.Even if the unemployment rate of the Philippines this year dropped it is still higher in comparison with our Asia-Pacific neighbours, Malaysia has 3.4 percent, 2.3 percent in Thailand, and 3.4 percent in Singapore. In South Korea, it was 3.5 percent, Taiwan, 4.3 percent, China, 3.9 percent and Vietnam, 5.6 percent and it cannot still erase the fact that it still don’t have enough job opportunities that can support all the Filipinos, that’s why only few Filipinos seeks job within the country and enter the labor force while the rest find jobs overseas while others ending up leaving the labor force and become unemployed or underemployed. One of the best example for this are the college graduates especially those who were a nursing graduate. Thousands of nursing graduates still don’t have a job because of oversupply of labor force in the field ,and also the country’s education system continues to produce college graduates whose skills don’t necessarily fit with what is in demand in the job market. Along with this is the growing population of the Philippines in which  the pace at which jobs are created simply cannot cope up with steady supply of graduates whom many will find themselves unemployed, as a result many nursing graduates fail to land their dream jobs. Many Filipinos also whom are unemployed wait for job opportunities abroad, and many families depend on remittances from family members who are staying abroad.

Because of the growing number of Filipinos who worked overseas ,the Philippines now ranked as the third largest generator of international worker’s remittances, behind only India and China. Recently, it surpassed Mexico by a margin to become the third largest remittance receiver country.According to the information from the World Bank’s data on immigrant remittances that it analyzes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data on Filipino international remittances received for the whole year of 2017 amounted to $28.06 billion. According to a report, “this inflow is a substantial contribution to the country’s dollar earnings, providing a substantial prop to the national economy”. The economic growth of the Philippines can primarily be associated to the remittances from the overseas Filipino workers, as well as the growth in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. One of the problems that the Philippine Government should be taken care of is the corruption because even if a country has faster economic growth but it’s money is not distributed properly to its sector it will still not become progressive and also I think the country should not be overly dependent of overseas remittances from Filipinos living abroad because  it just making the nation vulnerable to external shocks .Thats why the current administration should encourage value addition production and manufacturing and build industries for the Filipinos in order to increase employment opportunities .

One of the factors also why Filipinos suffered from poverty is the lack of education .If you can’t read or do basic math, if you can’t show up for work and apply yourself, you will not have a job. You will be poor.Based on the 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), about nine percent of the estimated 39.2 million Filipinos aged 6 to 24 years old were out-of-school children and youth (OSCY). OSCY refers to family members 6 to 14 years old who are not attending formal school; and family members 15 to 24 years old who are currently out of school, not gainfully employed, and have not finished college or post-secondary course.One of the main cause that affects children’s education is that the insufficient and poor facilities this signifies that students are not receiving their rights of having a sufficiently available and well-maintained school facilities. Indications of having these poor facilities are non-working or poorly maintained public comfort rooms, lack of classrooms, overcrowding in classrooms, poor ventilation, unsanitary and crowded canteens and more. Also some children from mountainous area especially the ethnic groups don’t have access to education.

These economic problems may also be seen in some ASEAN countries.In fact ,according to a report, almost 90 percent of people living in extreme poverty in Southeast Asia are in Indonesia and the Philippines. This issue may also lead to other problems such malnutrition. Merriam Webster defines malnutrition as the unhealthy condition that results from not eating enough food or not eating enough healthy food .Malnutrition is the very clear result of a countries overwhelming poverty. It is also the hottest issue for many years now. Because of poverty people are being deprived from accessing good and healthy foods which will eventually results to the increasing rate of mortality amongst children. Poverty limits the people from buying a decent meal for their family or even themselves or even if they do have money they will budget it and eat only once a day to save it for the another day .

               These issues are just some of the  issues the country’s are facing today and it is not only be seen in the Philippines but also in the other countries in ASEAN especially those who are still developing countries. These issues also motivates me to participates in the ASEAN Youth Conference in order to use my voice to came up for a possible solution on how to eradicate these issues although it is not that easy to eradicate these issues because it needs a lot of time but the important thing is to lessen the percentage of people suffering from this. I am very passionate on helping and finding a possible solution to this problem because I myself also belongs to the percent of people suffering from poverty and I want to show them and prove to other people like me that poverty is not a hindrance at all ,all we need is a helping hand so that we can finally achieved and make this world a better place to live in. Eventhough we came from different nations ,even if we came from diverse origin but then we are unified amidst diversity because we have the same objective and that is to build a future, a future that is full of hope  and fulfilment. Rise ASEAN , One Vision, One Identity, One Community.

Writer: Gelbert Crescencio, Philippines

IMPACT LIVES Project by A.Y.O.

We are a community of youths in Southeast Asia. Together, we are committed to create a World of Positive Change, Freedom, Love, and Digital Transformation towards a Sustainable Future.

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For the past years, it cannot be denied that the world is experiencing a drastic shift from the industrial era, to the information or digital age. This has brought about change in almost every sector in the society, as well as in the way people in society do things. It has influenced many aspects of the lives in many ways people from the earlier times have probably not imagined. One of the most prominent change that this technological era has showed people, is its impact on communication. Nowadays, it does not even take a minute for a message to reach another person. Establishing and maintaining connection, I believe, is the most significant contribution of communication to the world. Not only individuals, but nations around the world as well, has become more connected and engaged with each other. The media and communication has enable community of different races to learn and develop a sense of sympathy and care towards other races.

One of the clear manifestations of this, is the creation of the ASEAN integration. The core aim of this initiative is to boost the economic progress of ASEAN Economic Communities (AEC) thorough a better flow of products, services, and manpower. This initiative also aims to produce globally competitive workers and professionals, through encouraging students to study in neighbouring Asian countries. The Youth integration in this initiative aims not only to increase the students knowledge on a specific field of study, but to increase their appreciation towards other cultures, and increase their awareness and participation in issues that concern their country and other countries as well. Through this initiative, the youth can begin to develop the ability to think critically and participate in making decisions that could affect their future. Moreover, this will give them a sense of responsibility to contribute to the development of their respective countries.

With the constant and rapid development of technology, you may think that today’s generation or the so called ‘Millennials’, is just a generation of entitled children who are just mere receptacles of information handed over by the older generation. However, I would beg to disagree. This generation, through the advancements in technology has become a generation of youth who have extremely great potentials and bright futures. Many of these ‘millennials’ are young people who are capable of critically analyzing the underlying issues that their nations experience. Millennials are capable of recognizing the challenges that hinder the development of their country, and able to think through different perspectives, whether it be politically, economically, or socially.

Communication is a vial aspect of culture appreciation. Through the youth of today may come about language barriers and cultural differences, their ability to easily gather information about other cultures gives them an opportunity to explore and appreciate other cultures, through their own means. Today’s youth have developed a strong sense of volunteerism, charity, and nationality that is enough to promote intercultural participation and partnership in each nation. With all this being said, I therefore conclude that the ASEAN Integration is a reality constructed by all nations that aspire betterment of their whole wellbeing. Though there maybe failures along the way, the spirit of cooperation and understanding has definitely paved a good path for ASEAN nations.

Written by Nana Waehama, Academic Relations Manager


ASEAN Youth Organization (A.Y.O.) is an international non-governmental organization that focuses on spreading awareness about ASEAN, fostering mutual understanding and long-lasting relationships among the youth across all countries and cultures through Youth Empowerment and Community Engagement. Our vision is to create a world where youths exhibit a heightened interest on ASEAN through our activities that Empower Youth, Engage communities to instil and implement ideas that enables Positive Sustainable Change.

ASEAN Youth Organization is founded on August 13, 2015, it is composed of youth members and volunteers aged 17-40 years old. 

A.Y.O. is currently headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia. Aside from this, the organization is present in all ASEAN states through its networks in all ASEAN countries and other region. Through these networks, the youth can further propagate interest in ASEAN, and open discussions and ideas to spread awareness on ASEAN and empower and engage the youth and the community in the process. In addition, A.Y.O. is also work together with AYO Social Enterprise for enforcing the organization sustainability.

Why do we think that volunteering  is such a good thing to do? We believe that volunteering is worthwhile, no matter what our background is.

As we all know, volunteering is an activity which takes place through not-for-profit and community organizations and projects or local community and is undertaken to be of benefit to the community and the volunteer. One of organization that open for volunteering  is ASEAN Youth Organization, a one stop sharing organization in ASEAN.

Until now, A.Y.O has grown rapidly and has currently around 3,000 active members and more than 400,000 followers in our social media platform coming from various countries in ASEAN and everyone is able to apply to be ASEAN Youth Organization’s volunteer.

There are several steps for volunteering in A.Y.O., firstly we should fill in the form available on website and A.Y.O. Human Resources team will contact us for interview.  An interview time will be set with us to discuss our skills, desires and interests so as to better match available volunteer roles with potential volunteers. If we pass the selection process, we will officially informed by ASEAN Youth Organization.

In ASEAN Youth Organization, we do some activities depend on our division or department in A.Y.O., there are several programs which are running by A.Y.O. such as ASEAN Youth Organization Training Program, A.Y.O. Campaign, A.Y.O. Charity, Seminar and Workshop and in the near future A.Y.O. will hold the very first ASEAN Youth Conference in Philippines.

Being one of A.Y.O families is a really wonderful experience. We can deliver a wealth of benefits including a means of building self-esteem and confidence, a great way to learn or develop skills and interests, a pathway to enhance work experience, enhance our ability and get active, and the most important thing, ASEAN Youth Organization gives us a way to meet new people and broaden our social circle.


2017 is a very special year for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This regional organization is commemorating its 50th anniversary on August 8th. This year, ASEAN is also commemorating its 40th anniversary of partnership with couples of its strategic partners, United States of America and European Union. Since its foundation, ASEAN has been progressing on its role in the global dynamics such as security, economy, and social aspects through the high commitment of its member and intensive cooperation with its strategic partners.

Founded in August 8th 1967, ASEAN has become a huge market as it possess more than 626 million of people within its members. Founded by five countries, ASEAN has successfully maintained its regional stability and even could engage five more countries as the members. With 10 countries, ASEAN has done many things for the development of the region and the country-members, and became a strategic market for the global economy through its $2.4 Trillion economy of the members.

50 years of ASEAN signifies a well-established regional organization. Although there are several obstacles and challenges like South China Sea dispute, ASEAN can prove that Southeast Asia is a peaceful region in the midst of the diversity of the members’ political systems, cultural, languages, and races. ASEAN also can prove that its authentic “The ASEAN Way” through its non-intervention from each members and consensus policy making. Even though some people think that ASEAN could do more, a peaceful, worth, and promising Southeast Asia is answering all doubts.

The peaceful region shaped a strong very commitment and partnership within 10 members. Intra-ASEAN investment is currently the largest foreign direct investment of ASEAN. The average of economic growth of its member is up to 5 percent. Today, ASEAN as an economic bloc represents the fifth largest economy in the world. It is even projected improving, and become the fourth largest economy in 2050.

Partnership with United States

ASEAN’s success of maintaining security and improving economy is also enhanced by its strong cooperation with strategic partners. Furthermore, ASEAN’s success story makes it a trusted organization for other countries. It is already a consequence that other countries are interested in opening cooperation with ASEAN, one of which is the United States (U.S.).

U.S.-ASEAN partnership was started in 1977 when both were becoming each dialogue partners. The cooperation became more robust in 1990s when the U.S. launched economic programs that contain education, transfer of technology, and trade and investment. Afterwards, the partnership became much stronger when Barack Obama took the administration and made a strategic rebalance of US efforts towards Asia.

Realizing the importance of its huge market, U.S. initiated several strategic diplomacy. U.S. became the first non-ASEAN country to name an Ambassador to ASEAN back in 2008. In 2010, U.S. established Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and appointed the first resident Ambassador in the following year. At the moment, U.S. and ASEAN have several strong cooperation in five general aspects including economic integration, maritime cooperation, ASEAN as emerging leaders, opportunity for women, and addressing traditional challenges.

40 years of partnership provides huge impacts on economic area. U.S. provides huge number of investment in ASEAN. In 2015, the investment value were $12 million, or equivalent to 11.1 percent share of ASEAN foreign direct investment from 2010 to 2015. The number of U.S. global companies is also doubling, reaching over 1.500 U.S. companies operate in ASEAN. All those huge number caused by ASEAN stability as the proof of a trusted market.

Partnership with European Union

One of the strategic partners of ASEAN is European Union (EU). As a well-integrated regional organization, EU is much needed by ASEAN as its example of a well regionalization. Otherwise, ASEAN’s large market is needed by EU, even though EU itself has a large market with approximately 510 million people.

The EU-ASEAN partnership were initiated in ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting on July 5th-8th 1977. At that time, the forum agreed a formal cooperation and relationship with European Economic Community (EEC). Later on, the cooperation were institutionalized in 1980 with the signing of ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement. Since then, the dialogue is rapidly growing until both produced Nuremberg Declaration in 2007, a long term vision and commitment to reach mutual benefits and common goals. Meanwhile, EU-ASEAN cooperation currently covers 3 areas, including political cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation.

The EU’s trust in ASEAN are shown at the high value of its investments and trades. In 2015, EU invested around EUR 20 million, the second largest after Intra-ASEAN investment. That number is similar to 16.7 percent of ASEAN’s total foreign direct investment. EU is ASEAN’s second largest trade partner after China, with total share of 13.1 percent. Otherwise, ASEAN is EU’s third largest trade partner outside Europe, after U.S. and China, with total EUR 201.6 billion in 2015.

The Optimism

With its commemoration of its foundation and initiation of partnership with two strategic partners, ASEAN remains optimistic of its future. The experts consider ASEAN as the most advanced regional organization in the world after EU. The status quo of its organization and its partnership shows that the future is very bright. 50 years of the organization shows the maturity of its operations, and 40 years of partnership with U.S. and EU shows that ASEAN is trustable and promising.

But, the challenges will become much harder. The dynamics of international security that is harmed by terrorism, the uncertainty of global economy, and the unpredictable political phenomenon could come every time. ASEAN should regard all of those commemoration as important preparations for future dynamics, for rapid improvement of the organization in the midst of all tough challenges, and for the maintenance and improvement of all important relations including with U.S. and EU.

Author : Fadhil Hazmi M, Program Development Officer of A.Y.O. Indonesia