Report on the ASEAN Conference in Myanmar


Report on the Conference on “ASEAN at 50 – ASEAN’s Development Paradigm”

Organized by HenrichBoel Foundation

Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar

Monday, 15 - 16 October 2017

Background

Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) in Bangkok, Yangon and Phnom Penh have joined together to convene a conference on the occasion of ASEAN’s 50th anniversary in 2017 with the aim of taking stock and reflecting on the challenges and opportunities of the development model of ASEAN. The output of the conference was to include a set of recommendations towards a sustainable development paradigm for the region.

The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 was a major milestone of the regional economic integration agenda, providing opportunities to increase trade and economic relationships in the form of a huge market of US$2.6 trillion for over 625 million people. The purpose of establishing an integrated economic community was to further accelerate economic growth, enhance trade development in the region, and allow the free movement of goods, services, skilled labor, and capital, while creating a community that lived in shared stability and prosperity.

However, ASEAN Member States are faced with several challenges and it has become more and more obvious that the economic development model promulgated by ASEAN may not be a sustainable one. Enormous income inequalities, lack of social security for the masses, lack of institutional capacities, an unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, widespread environmental destruction, the loss of rural livelihoods and local conflicts. These are the downsides of ASEAN’s development paradigm. Increasingly autocratic governments justify their reign primarily through a consumerist approach for the urban middle classes and the promise of increasing material wealth. It is an open question for how long this kind of development can last.

The Conference and its results

NGO Forum on ADB was represented by Luz Juliet Ligthart, Policy Coordinator on AIIB as one of 50 participants coming from the following countries: Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, and HongKong both from the CSO community and the academe covering various sectors such as migrant workers, local communities, urbanization, natural resource governance, and sustainable development.

The first part of the program set the tone of the conference where MrTithinan of Chulalongkorn University provided an overview of ASEAN and its development pathways. This was further explained with inputs on Chinese Aid and Security, the emerging markets and Myanmar’s development model. Further on the topic on global challenges and ASEAN’s development was tackled focusing on resource malady, urbanization and labor and migration.

The final session went on to raise possible sustainable models based on the topics human rights and inclusive development, regionalism and youth development.

A field trip to the most sacred Pagoda took place during the first day followed by a welcome dinner.

FORUM’s sharing during the open forum on the need to further develop a paradigm based on a country’s natural and cultural conditions should be the basic foundation of any model to be adopted.

Notes taken by:

Luz Julieta Ligthart

October 22, 2017

#ASEAN

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