Young people, with their creativity and dynamism when nurtured in the right direction, can be the driving force of a nation as the world gets increasingly connected, leading to a promising future, according to an official.
“Young leaders from 21 member economies have to recognise that we all share a common future; how we want our future to turn out depends on what we do in the present,” the co-chair of the APEC Voices Leadership Council James Soh said in his welcome remarks at the APEC Voices of the Future (VOF) 2017, which opened on Monday morning.
“So it’s when we try to work to contribute towards common goals, we will reap fruits and share in the prosperity and growth of our nations,” he said, emphasising that the theme chosen by the host is fitting for the young generation of the Asia-Pacific region.
As many as 180 youth delegates from 17 out of the total 21 APEC member economies made it to VOF 2017, held on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week on November 6-11 with a similar theme — “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future”.
Young representatives from Mexico attend the APEC Voices of the Future 2017
VOF has been around for nearly 20 years, and is the official youth programme of the APEC Leaders’ Week.
“We need young people because they are the future, so we need to provide them with a platform and also allow them to have a voice, because when we talk about APEC Leaders’ Week, it’s only about the leaders and the ABAC meeting,” Soh said in an interview ahead of the opening ceremony.
“So we must allow them to have a voice to raise their concerns about what affects them, because sometimes political leaders may not know [that]. It’s good for them to interact and understand the working of APEC.”
The co-chair of APEC Voices Leadership Council highlighted the importance of VOF, explaining that it provided opportunities for the youth to interact with policymakers and businesspeople.
“And since they always have new ideas and are very tech-savvy, they can come up with new suggestions on how we can enhance business, making it a win-win situation,” Soh said.
“VOF is very important because it helps young Vietnamese people understand many things. For example, as we’re preparing for the APEC meetings, there’s this typhoon, so the issue of climate change is very important,” keynote speaker Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, former UN under-secretary general, said.
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