Image Source: Rizqi Imaduddin
STEAR participated in the ASEAN Youth Economic Forum (AYEF) 2023, organized by the ASEAN Youth Organization on March 17th, 2023. The forum was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan friendship, and its main theme was "Building A More Inclusive Youth Participation in ASEAN-Japan Friendship". The aim of the event was to foster better relations between ASEAN and Japan by providing young leaders from both regions with an opportunity to interact, collaborate, and work together. The event adopted a hybrid format, with participants attending via Zoom and in-person at the Le Méridien Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.
At the beginning of the event, several speeches were given to welcome the participants. The first speech was delivered by Ambassador Kiya Masahiko, the ambassador of the Japanese mission to ASEAN. This was followed by a speech by Senjaya Mulia, the current chairperson of the ASEAN Youth Organization. The last welcoming speech was given by Ryosuke Fujioke, who is the chief representative of the ASEAN Economic Ministers—Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan (AEM-METI) Economic and Industrial Cooperation Committee (AMEICC).
Following the welcoming speeches, the event continued with the first public discussion. It's important to note that AYEF is a multi-day event, but only selected delegates were invited to attend the subsequent days. Nevertheless, the first public discussion was thought-provoking. The first speaker at the discussion is Latifahaida Abdul Latif, Assistant Director of Analysis and Monitoring on Finance and Socioeconomic Issues Division for the ASEAN Secretariat. The second speaker was Michikazu Kojima, senior advisor to the President on Environmental issues of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). The third speaker is Asri Hadiyanti Giastuti, planner for the Directorate of Environment of the Ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia. The fourth speaker is Shogo Tanaka, the Director of Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Division of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan. The fifth speaker is Suriyan Vitchitlekarn, Executive Director of Mekong Institute. He talked about the circular economy in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
The initial public discussions at AYEF focused on the application of the circular economy at a macro level. This is in line with the overarching theme of the event which was circular economy. Each speaker provided their own perspective on the concept, and the event successfully brought together a diverse range of perspectives from Indonesia, ASEAN, and Japan. The attendees were able to learn about the interconnected concepts, including those from intergovernmental organizations, governments, and academic circles. They also gained insights into the challenges of implementing the circular economy model but were also inspired to see that a sustainable future can be achieved with effort.
With the first public discussion coming to a close, the speakers were all applauded for their brilliant presentation. Following the discussion, the participants had lunch and engaged in an informal networking event. AYEF drew attendees from various organizations, including business organizations, private companies, student organizations, and individuals interested in the subject. The event served as a melting pot of ideas and perspectives.
After lunch, the second public discussion commenced, featuring five speakers representing the implementation of a circular economy. The first speaker, Maria Hughes, was the Associate Program Management Officer (Circular Economy) of the United Nations Environment Programme (Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific). The second speaker is Laurencia Cindy Saputra, founder of Allas. Allas is the first returnable packaging service in Indonesia that aims to reduce and prevent waste from single-use packaging. The third speaker is Shin Ito, Assistant Manager of the Sustainable Solutions Sales Department for the JGC Corporation. JGC is a multinational engineering company and one of the first companies in Japan to produce sustainable aviation fuel. The fourth speaker is Fahrian Yovantra, Head of Program of the Greeneration Foundation. Greeneration Foundation is an environmental NGO in Indonesia. The fifth speaker is Ikbal Alexander, Founder of the Kertabumi Recycling Center. The Kertabumi Recycling Center is a waste management and recycling center in Indonesia.
The second public discussion mainly focused on the opportunities and challenges associated with implementing the circular economy model. The speakers provided insights on how to implement the model on both macro and micro levels, inspiring the audience with examples of how a sustainable future can be achieved in the ASEAN-Japan region. One personal criticism is that although AYEF is marketed as an ASEAN-Japan forum, the second public discussion heavily favored the Indonesian perspective. While the information and inspiration gained were valuable, a greater variety of speakers would have been appreciated. Despite this shortcoming, the speakers were really passionate and highlighted a way forward to address the many challenges of implementing the circular economy model.
After the conclusion of the second public discussion, a Q&A session was held which allowed the audience to engage with the speakers and ask questions for further information.The final session of the day was a public presentation by Abhisek Vats, one of the co-founders of the ASEAN Youth Organization Research center. He discussed at length the concept of E-waste and how proper handling of it is still lacking in ASEAN.
Overall, the event successfully raised awareness and facilitated discussion about the circular economy, sustainability, and youth involvement in ASEAN and Japan. It also highlighted areas for further cooperation between the two regions. By centering the concept of a circular economy, AYEF posed the question of how cooperation can be deepened to achieve a sustainable future for all. Attendees left the event feeling inspired and motivated to continue contributing towards a more environmentally friendly future.