The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2013 themed “ASEAN: Building Our Future Together” took place in the Brunei capital city of Banda Seri Begawan on April 6-8.

Held by the Council of Women of Brunei under the auspice of the Civil Society Organisations, the event was to strengthen solidarity and unity of voices, concerns, needs and recommendations of each citizen and civil society, towards the realisation of ASEAN Community by 2015.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Brunei Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Pehin bin Haji Abdullah said the successful establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015 critically relies on the participation and active contributions of each citizen and civil society in ASEAN, including youth, women and non-governmental organisations.

He stressed that each Government, citizen and civil society in the region should work to realise common goals of poverty reduction, job creation, health care improvement and sustainable environmental protection.

Abdullah said civil society can assist in bridging ASEAN gap through mutual links to improve services for the poor, the illiterate, the ailing and the vulnerable.

On top of this, civil society can seek cooperation in human resources development through education, training, technology and regional initiatives on natural disaster mitigation and people-to-people connectivity.

Participants mulled recommendation mechanism, environmental protection and the building of ASEAN spanning over three key pillars of politics-security, economics and socio-culture.

They also adopted the ACSC/APF joint declaration and transferred the chairmanship of next year’s event to Myanmar which will chair ASEAN in 2014.-VNA