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Nov 30, 2021 / 21:53

People-centered approach matters to subregion development in ASEAN: Vietnamese PM

Greater coordination is needed to strengthen the region’s common development drive towards the ASEAN Community.

People are the center of all strategies in developing ASEAN as a whole that is based on sub-region cooperation, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said at a regional forum today.

 Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the forum in Hanoi on Nov 30. Photo: Baoquocte

The people-centered approach in the development drive is aimed to ensure no one is left behind while boosting the connectivity among regions with a focus on infrastructure development, digital transformation, and cultural links, Chinh said at ASEAN Sub-Regional Cooperation Forum on Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth, the first of its kind held in Vietnam.

Accordingly, it needs to improve capacity for sub-regions and boost effective connection among those, Chinh said at the event held in-person and virtually in Hanoi on November 30 that marked the participation of ASEAN countries, its partners, international organizations, UN bodies, including UNDP.

He said ASEAN as a whole for decades has always stressed the importance of narrowing gaps among its members through promoting the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) launched in 2000. IAI aims to narrow the divide within ASEAN and enhance ASEAN competitiveness as a region.

Meanwhile, the regional countries with similarities of geographical locations, rich cultural identities, and similar natural conditions have formed sub-regional cooperation frameworks such as the East ASEAN Growth Area; the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT); the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) among Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam; the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS); the Mekong Commission; the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area, among others.

“The sub-region cooperation through the aforementioned mechanism under the support by international partners has brought about fruitful results, largely supporting the development of each country and the entire region,” Chinh said.

The Vietnamese PM said the forum is an opportunity for all stakeholders to find out proper strategies for the development of the sub-regions.

To boost the cooperation, he called for ASEAN member states and their partners, international organizations, banks, and businesses to support the drive with a focus on technology transfer, especially those helping preserve natural resources while ensuring social welfare to people in areas.  

 Participants at the event. Photo: Baoquocte

Sub-region cooperation matters a lot for ASEAN Community

It can be said that ASEAN’s attention to developing sub-regions remains little, resulting in insufficient investment in those areas. Vietnam has noticed the unreasonable trend and it suggested the hosting of the forum which is aimed to link the sub-region cooperation in the regional development, according to Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung.

The building of the ASEAN Community requires both common plans for the entire region and strategies for sub-regions to help the areas develop altogether, Dung said on the sidelines of the event.

Vietnam’s initiative has received great support from different stakeholders who said it matters a lot at a time when the regional countries are striving for post-pandemic recovery.

Dung said it’s necessary to have good policies that facilitate the investment and mobilize resources to boost the development among sub-regions. In addition, ASEAN would figure out the advantages and barriers that its businesses are facing in calling for investment in the region to ensure no one is left behind.

Addressing the event, Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam said, progress is uneven across and within ASEAN member states while ASEAN is one of the most vulnerable regions to the long-term effects of climate change.

There is a risk that countries with less fiscal capacity will recover from the pandemic more slowly, an outcome that would increase inequality among ASEAN countries.

Hence, there is an urgent need to address interlinked global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, and the risk of pandemics. Acting on their own, individual countries cannot meet these challenges. “But collectively, with a renewed effort to strengthen regional and global cooperation, we can succeed,” she said.

Greater coordination and coherence are needed to strengthen the region’s response to Covid-19, and to ensure that no one and no country is left behind in its efforts to protect citizens from the negative impact of the pandemic, Wiesen stressed. 

Regional organizations like ASEAN have played a crucial role in promoting cooperation and partnerships, for the aspirations of the Agenda 2030 and the ASEAN Vision 2050 to become a reality, she noted.  

 Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam. Photo: UNDP