Young Indo-Pacific 2021
Youth Perspective on the Indo-Pacific:
Joint Outcomes from the Young Indo-Pacific Forum
We, the three organising think tanks – European Guanxi, STEAR and Polis180 –, with support from several other youth organisations and think tanks, organised the inaugural Young Indo-Pacific Forum from the 26th to the 28th of November 2021 to bring young voices into the political discourse regarding the Indo-Pacific Guideline of the European Union. Together with over 300 students and young professionals from around 40 countries, we exchanged views, formulated recommendations and united to fulfil the goal of creating a new platform for Asian-European cooperation. Our joint communiqué, see below, represents the full breadth of these perspectives.
The Forum was held with support from: Agora, Australia China Youth Association, Boyma Institut, Foraus, the Open ThinkTank Network, the Young SEAkers Cambodia Chapter and Waseda IR Association (WIRA). In a joint effort, we hosted multiple panel discussions with experts on topics regarding the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, encompassing the following areas: security and geopolitics, climate change and green recovery, technology and digitalisation, human rights and migration, and trade and economic co-operation.
The Indo-Pacific region represents an important geopolitical weight in terms of economic and strategic significance. We aim to promote a broader understanding of the EU’s interactions with the Indo-Pacific region, and to look ahead at the direction in which key relationships between the EU and Indo-Pacific states will develop. Moreover, we believe in fostering an inclusive and interactive exchange between stakeholders and the young generations of both continents. The challenges concerning the Indo-Pacific region are plenty, often intersecting with the EU’s interests at home and abroad. In order to respond to these challenges, we put forward a set of recommendations to promote understanding between youth in the two regions.
Our goal for the cooperation between youth-led think tanks in Asia and Europe focusing on the Indo-Pacific was the establishment of a platform to strengthen the inclusion of youth in this interregional relationship, and to show what we expect from our political leaders for the future. What we wanted to achieve is to also show how the different topics intersect and depend on each other. Our future aspirations are tied to our recommendations within our communiqué. We want to create sustainable structures that not only create exchange between youth in both regions but also advise and direct our demands to decision-makers in political institutions. We want to build permanent cooperation with EU institutions to make this conference a platform of opportunity to better understand each other and shape the future of Euro-Asian relations together.
With this in mind and a detailed communiqué in hand, representatives of the Young Indo-Pacific Forum set out to get engaged in the policymaking process to ensure that youth voices were heard by leaders at various European Insitutitions. Our advocacy efforts in Brussels reached the three central political institutions of the EU, which hold the executive and legislative power of the Union: the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. In particular, we presented our communiqué to:
The Council of the European Union: The Cabinet of Charles Michel through the Foreign Policy Advisors Ms. Mara Steinberga and Mr. Manon Barthod.
The European Commission: The Cabinet of Commissioner Urpilainen (DG INTPA for International Partnerships) through Mr. Arto Virtanen and Mr. Olai Voionmaa.
The European Parliament: The EU Delegation to ASEAN through Antoine Ripoll (Director, DG External Policies) and Jim Maher.
Through our meetings with policymakers, we provided young people with the opportunity to participate in, and interact with, the policymaking process directly and with tangible results. Initiatives like the Young Indo-Pacific Forum need sufficient funds to strengthen the link between the EU and the Indo-Pacific region. Our network showed how the cooperation of different youth-led institutions would profit from the creation of an interregional umbrella network. Youth representatives could encourage their counterparts in both regions to create a long-term plan such as an engagement strategy. The ideas from youth and civil society organisations whose missions and objectives are focused on EU-Asia relations, could be the backbone of smart policies in the future. This could be supplemented by establishing a Youth Sounding Board or a Youth Task Force that advises political stakeholders in participatory and effective processes and co-creates solutions for the challenges of our generation in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. These considerations were echoed by the policymakers we met and show a bright road ahead for the forum.
We want to thank all the panellists for sharing their expertise with us and the cooperating organisations for their huge effort during the period of organisation, implementation, and finalising this document of recommendations.
If you want to be part of this journey, feel free to contact us!