FOR THE FIRST TIME, Cambodia will host the World Economic Forum on Asean. The meeting, in its 26th year, will focus on how the region can harness the potential of a young demographic, as well as the transformative impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to foster inclusive economic growth.
More than 700 leaders from business, government, academia and civil society will convene under the theme, Youth, Technology and Growth: Securing Asean’s Digital and Demographic Dividends, in Phnom Penh from today to Friday (May 10-12).
The meeting will bring together key stakeholder groups to discuss how the region will balance rapid social, economic and political reforms while ensuring equitable and sustainable growth, employment creation and resource security.
As the Asean region celebrates its 50th anniversary, the programme will focus on opportunities to bring infrastructure projects to life, how to adapt education systems to the needs of the digital age, and how the Asean community can navigate a new course in a world of accelerating change.
In addition, the jobs of the future and the impact of empowered and engaged women and youth on economic growth and social development will be the focus of discussions.
The many government representatives will include Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, who will lead a strong senior ministerial delegation from the host country; Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos; President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Philippines; Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Viet Nam among others.
Other key participants will include Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, CARE International, Switzerland; Jin Liqun, President, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Beijing; Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director of International Trade Centre (ITC), and Tevin Vongvanich, Chief Executive Officer, PTT, Thailand.
“The 50th anniversary of the Asean community is a perfect moment not only to reflect on all that the region has achieved over the past five decades but importantly to develop fresh ideas and catalyse new initiatives to take the region into the future,” said Justin Wood, Head of Asia and the Pacific at the World Economic Forum.
“The 10 nations of Asean have fantastic potential to continue delivering prosperity to their young populations. But in an era of increasingly rapid economic, geopolitical and technological change, the task of identifying opportunities, navigating risks and setting policy requires new approaches. The meeting in Phnom Penh will bring together all stakeholders in society to work on these new approaches.”
“It is an honour and a privilege for our country to host the World Economic Forum on Asean this year. The theme of the meeting, Youth, Technology and Growth, is especially significant for our country's current position in the Asean and global markets,” said Sun Chanthol, Senior Minister; Minister of Public Works and Transport of Cambodia.
“With over half of the population under the age of 25 and an average GDP growth of over 7 per cent during the last two decades, Cambodia is in a position to continue to grow thanks to our young, dynamic and energetic population who embrace the technological revolution.”
As the meeting will focus heavily on the region’s young population, inspiring Asean leaders under the age of 40 from business, to politics, to the arts, will be featured.
From the forum’s own communities, the Global Shapers, a network of hubs developed and led by young people between the ages of 20-30 who are making a positive contribution to their communities, will be represented by over 35 hubs from Asia.
In addition, 35 young global leaders and six outstanding social entrepreneurs will take an active role in the meeting.
On Thursday May 10, the Grow Asia Forum, a joint initiative by the World Economic Forum and the Asean Secretariat, will also hold its annual meeting in Phnom Penh.
It will bring together 120 leaders from Asean governments, global and regional private sector, civil society and farmers’ organisations to explore solutions and make strategic decisions that will help ensure the sustainability of food systems.
The forum’s work on agriculture has reached 3.6 million farmers to date and mobilised $10 billion, with $1.2 billion already invested.