ASEAN turns 50. The results of its policies and the situation of the Southeast Asian community is at best mixed. Despite impressive economic growth rates, the struggle for social-ecological justice has not resulted in any major achievements so far. Facing a number of ecological crises, especially climate change and sea level rise, the member states are under pressure to act immediately.
By creating a carbon-free energy development network, a moderating unit designed as a regional focal point will be established in order to identify synergies on combining or aligning national activities. Sharing successful activities with member organisations will scale up successful actions and activities. The aim is to slow down coal development, reduce regional energy dependency and a financial log in into coal capacity for Southeast Asia.
For the countries of Southeast Asia, this year’s rather tumultuous G20 summit held unprecedented opportunities to present themselves as good multilateralists and shape the outcomes of the annual meeting, at least in theory. Apart from Indonesia, the only permanent member of the club, Vietnam, in its function as current Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), attended the summit and Filipino President Duterte who currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) equally expected an invitation.
Although ASEAN has an advantage when it comes to abundant resources, it remains to be seen whether the region will be able to tap into its potential. The majority of renewable energy sources remain untouched in ASEAN. For example, looking at individual countries, only 2MW of 65GWh technical potential of solar power has been installed, while biomass and wind power are underused in Cambodia. Indonesia only utilizes 5% of its geothermal potential. With the exception of the Philippines, currently in the lead with 400MW of wind energy, wind power remains a door left open for other ASEAN countries.
When the 19 member countries and the EU gathered in Hamburg for the G20 Summit one important topic was not on the agenda: from China to Mexico, Turkey to Russia, Saudi Arabia to India – the respect for fundamental human rights can no longer be taken for granted.
China's increasing presence, from economic to military links, is leading to a potential emergence of Chinese spheres of influence in which Southeast Asia will be regarded as China‘s backyard. To many observers, China‘s regional leadership constitutes an irresistible outcome of China‘s remarkable economic performances and influence. Although the strategic options of smaller powers are limited, ASEAN’s strategies towards great powers show that smaller powers still have a diverse menu of strategic options to choose from, depending on which is most effective in meeting its short- and long-term needs.
Diversity is an essential feature of our region. While religious and ethnic animosity poses an obstacle to creating a “cohesive and caring society”, this is not to suggest that diversity is the cause of conflict and insecurity per se. As illustrated in various multiethnic states around the globe, many governments have succeeded in integrating diverse populations. Rather, it is discriminatory practices and the lack of respect for differences in Southeast Asia that have alienated minorities and created chasms within communities.
The eleven-year experience of engagement with the official ASEAN process has taught civil society movements in Southeast Asia valuable lessons that should guide its future trajectories. Disappointment, rejection, and disillusionment should now be a thing of the past and chalked up to experience. The real challenge facing ACSC/APF today lies from outside and beyond the established ASEAN process.
Obtaining ASEAN membership has been one of Timor-Leste’s foreign policy goals since 2002. This article discusses the current dynamic in Timor-Leste and what it means to be an ASEAN member. This is based on the domestic context that shapes Timor’s interests. Many commentators have taken a position in advocating for Timor’s membership based on short-sighted policies. At the same time, ASEAN continues to argue that Timor "does not have the capacity”. This article goes further by asking how Timor-Leste can benefit from this membership and what the necessary conditions are for Timor to do so.
The romance between ASEAN citizens and social media lives on. Social media continues to shape a more integrated and digitally savvy regional community. It has proven that its people have set limitations due to geographical borders, customary social divides, economic status and perhaps national laws and policies. At 50, ASEAN and its member states must admit that social media is not just here to stay, but is and will remain a dynamic force to be reckoned with.
By Joel Mark Baysa Barredo, Jose Santos P. Ardivilla
The list of the world’s largest 500 companies by turnover contains a huge number of firms engaged in agriculture and food. And the trend continues towards a further concentration of power. Agrifood corporations are driving industrialization along the entire global value chain, from farm to plate. Their purchasing and sales policies promote a form of agriculture that revolves around productivity. The fight for market share is achieved at the expense of the weakest links in the chain: farmers, and workers.
Indonesia will be able to play a leading role in the fight against climate change, and gets a global significance. To that end, a political leadership is needed which is able to promote consistency between the declared commitment shown in international forums and genuine implementation efforts.