Legarda: ASEAN Community Must Be About The People

November 12, 2017

In light of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Senator Loren Legarda today stressed that the interests of the people should be the primary concern as member nations move forward together towards a better and stronger ASEAN Community.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, said that as the ASEAN aims to build “a peaceful, stable and resilient Community with enhanced capacity to respond effectively to challenges,” it should actively involve its people and ensure that the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 would eventually lead to better living conditions of its citizens.


“We have a population of more than 600 million, more than half of them are young people. We must capitalize on this asset but at the same time, we must ensure that our aspirations as an ASEAN Community would actually redound to the benefit of our people,” she said.


“As we continue to forge stronger cooperation to address the greatest threats to our respective nations and the region as a whole—terrorism and climate change—we must build on the capacities of our local communities and our people to contribute towards our goal of fostering equitable and sustainable economic development across the region, which must result in a higher quality of life for our people,” Legarda stressed.


The Senator noted that the ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23) highlights the region’s commitment to proactively take action to address climate change through the signing of the Paris Agreement; submission of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC); actively engaging in the post-COP21 UNFCCC negotiations on the modalities, rules, procedures, and guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Agreement; promoting sustainable management of forests and the use of sustainable energy sources and green technology; and the implementation of the ASEAN Community Roadmap 2009-2015 including ASEAN Action Plan on Joint Response to Climate Change (AAP-JRCC), the ASEAN Forging Ahead Together 2025, and developing the ASEAN Post-2015 Strategic Plan on Environment (ASPEN), and ASEAN-UN Action Plan on Environment and Climate Change 2016-2020.


On the other hand, as a region greatly affected by the impacts of climate change, the ASEAN calls upon developed countries to expedite the provision of the means of implementation as articulated in the Agreement to enable ASEAN and other developing country Parties to pursue mitigation and adaptation efforts consistent to the implementation of NDCs.


Meanwhile, Legarda also stressed on the need for ASEAN to foster innovation and build its creative capacities with the end view of ensuring that the region’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) contribute to developing new solutions and value added outputs to meet the challenges of the 21st century.


According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), one of the region’s main challenges is to bring its infrastructure and information technology capability up to date so that it can take advantage of new technology.


“Innovation and creativity play a significant role in transforming small businesses into competitive components of the ASEAN value chain. We need to develop industries that will be innovators of technology,” said Legarda.


The Senator said that the ASEAN’s bold vision of achieving the free flow of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor in the region may actually help the country achieve higher productivity and economic diversification with the right policies and programs of action.


“As an ASEAN Community, we want an integrated, peaceful and stable community. But much work needs to be done in order that this community that we all seek to build will be relevant and will help usher in a better life for all the people in the region,” Legarda concluded.


The 31st ASEAN Summit from November 10-14, with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” is hosted by the Philippines. ASEAN Leaders will discuss the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the way forward and the appointment of the new Secretary-General of ASEAN.