The Indo-Pacific Youth Dialogue is a 100% youth-run initiative supported by a small grant from the United States Department of State. The idea sprung in Tokyo, Japan in December 2019 at the ALLI Indo-Pacifric Summit. ALLI stands for Advancing Long-term Leadership Initiative. This summit was a program for young leaders, hailing from across the Indo-Pacific region, who are alumni of various Department of State Exchange Programs. We discussed topics such as the environment, natural resource management, civic engagement, cross-cultural collaboration, economic development, and resilience. The Summit organizers brought in high-level speakers, including the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP), as well as speakers from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Participants engaged in many beneficial breakout sessions and workshops on best practices for community engagement, sustainability, public-private partnerships, project management, negotiations, disaster resiliency, and entrepreneurship.
Toward the end of the ALLI Summit, we were split into multi-country teams, and given time to come up with our own initiative to advance the Indo-Pacific identity among young leaders. Our team presented our proposal for an Indo-Pacific Youth Dialogue, and we were fortunate to be selected for funding. This was an empowering moment, as young people are rarely given the opportunity by senior governmental leaders to transform their own ideas into reality. The Indo-Pacific Youth Dialogue is for youth, by youth. We thank the Department of State, US Embassy Tokyo, Cultural Vistas, and YSEALI—Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative. We further thank Social Good Outpost and our peer Elise Stephenson for helping us establish a virtual presence.
The Indo-Pacific Youth Dialogue is solutions-oriented and held in conjunction with the twice-yearly ASEAN Summit. ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and its secretariat is located in Jakarta, Indonesia. Every year, the member nations of ASEAN rotate which country serves as Chair. The Chair country hosts the two ASEAN Summits, as well as many other Ministerial-level meetings throughout their host year. In 2020, Vietnam is the ASEAN Chair. Originally, the inaugural Indo-Pacific Youth Dialogue was scheduled to take place directly before the 36th ASEAN Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam in April 2020. However, COVID-19 has forced us to go virtual, and instead will be in advance of the 37th ASEAN Summit and 15th East Asia Summit in Q4 2020.
The delegates to IPYD will engage around six policy focuses:
1. Climate change and natural disaster risk management
2. Digital society and the Internet
3. Entrepreneurship and jobs for youth
4. Public health preparedness
5. Religious tolerance, countering violent extremism, and peacebuilding
6. Security and transnational crime
After hearing from experts on these topics and engaging in leadership development workshops, the delegates will work together to author a Youth Policy Communique, released the week of the 37th ASEAN Summit in November 2020. The ideas expressed in the Policy Communique will not represent the stance of any government the delegates are citizens of. Rather, it is an exercise for young leaders to practice being solutions-oriented, and learn the steps of solving issues in their communities and countries through policy. Our goal is to increase meaningful civic engagement of youth from across the Indo-Pacific in order to promote the Indo-Pacific identity, and collaborate across borders and cultures to design solutions to common challenges and opportunities.
A Stronger Indo-Pacific, A Stronger World published by Cultural Vistas