Cambodia hosted the Eighth ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (SOMY VIII) and the Seventh ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Youth (7th SOMY+3) in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 25-26 August.

The SOMY VIII endorsed the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020 which will set the direction of the ASEAN youth sector for the next five years. Five priority focus of the Work Plan include youth entrepreneurship, youth employment, youth awareness, youth volunteerism and leadership, and youth resilience. The plan will be submitted to the ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Youth in September 2016 for adoption and subsequent implementation.

Under this work plan, the SOMY Leaders agreed to support the development of an ASEAN Youth Development Index (YDI). The ASEAN YDI will be the first of its kind and serve as a key instrument in evidence-based policy formulation and programme planning on youth development in ASEAN. The initiative will not only anchor on key areas in the ASEAN Youth Work Plan, but will also include globally agreed-upon indicators such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Human Development Index. Indonesia will serve as the lead country of the initiative and will be supported by a task force with representatives from other Member States.

Practical aspect of the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth and ASEAN YDI, such as the possible utilisation of the ASEAN Youth Fund to support the ASEAN youth sector's initiatives, was also discussed. Further, the SOMY VIII welcomed collaboration with existing and new partners such as the ASEAN Youth Forum to help mobilise youth organisations and connect them more effectively with the ASEAN youth sector.

Taking into account the growing recognition of the importance of reaching the out-of-school youth, the SOMY Leaders took note of the drafting of the ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Education for Out-of-School Children and Youth to promote inclusive learning opportunities and ensure basic rights to education for all, including the ASEAN youth. The Declaration was formulated through the ASEAN education sector and is expected to be adopted at the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits next month.

Representing the Plus Three Countries at the 7th SOMY+3, Japan and the People's Republic of China underlined the importance of strengthening their relations with the ASEAN Member States in youth development in ASEAN, bilaterally or through the Plus Three framework. Recurring youth programmes such as the Ship for Southeast Asian and Japanese Youth Programme, the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths, and the China-ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Forum have benefited the ASEAN youth and promoted mutual understanding and cooperation among the countries.

As part of the annual senior officials meetings, Cambodia also hosted the 21st ASEAN Youth Day Meeting (21st AYDM). The AYDM brought together 55 young leaders, mentors, and awardees of the ASEAN Youth Award and the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations Awards in ASEAN from the AMS as well as youth leaders from the Plus Three Countries. The youth leaders agreed on key messages and actions to be pursued related to ASEAN youth cooperation and volunteerism in the promotion of sustainable development and deeper cooperation and forging ahead together in ASEAN through the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020.

Source: Association of SouthEast Asian Nation