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World Economic Forum on ASEAN in VietNam

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A record number of regional heads of state or government will participate in the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 11-13 September. The meeting will take place under the theme ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In all, eight ASEAN countries will be represented by their prime minister, president or state counsellor.

Among the registered heads of state or government are President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Philippines; newly elected Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad of Malaysia, meeting his regional peers for the first time on the international stage, and Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, participating for the first time since the meeting took place in her home country in 2013. They and four more ASEAN government leaders will be hosted by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc of Viet Nam.

“We are honoured to be welcoming this record delegation of regional government leaders,” said Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific and Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum. “The ASEAN region is currently one of the world’s bright spots for economic growth, and their presence shows the commitment they have to ensure this remains the case as the Fourth Industrial Revolution expands in economic scope and impact, and the geopolitical environment around them changes rapidly.”

The full list of ASEAN heads of state or government who have confirmed their participation so far are:

  • Cambodia: Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen
  • Indonesia: President Joko Widodo
  • Laos: Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith
  • Malaysia: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
  • Myanmar: State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Singapore: Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong
  • The Philippines: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
  • Viet Nam: Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc

They are joined by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka, as well as several senior cabinet ministers from the Republic of Korea, Thailand and other countries.

More than 800 leaders from business, government, civil society and media will join these heads of state and senior ministers to discuss issues ranging from the region’s geopolitical friction points to entrepreneurship and employment in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They will do so with the help of leaders of 100 early-stage start-ups, whose companies represent the dynamic nature of entrepreneurial spirit of ASEAN.

Issues to be discussed at the meeting include Asia’s New Balance of Power, Factory Asia’s Next Frontier, the Future of Jobs in ASEAN, Asia Economic Outlook, Accelerating the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN Pluralism and Designing Cities 4.0. Topics surrounding the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, blockchain, drones and fintech, will be highlighted. The meeting will also include workplace sessions on topics such as Sexual Harassment at Work, and Workplace 4.0.

The meeting Co-Chairs are Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer, Plan International, United Kingdom; Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of Indonesia; Kang Kyung-Wha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; Nguyen Manh Hung, Acting Minister of Information and Communications of Viet Nam; Nazir Razak, Chairman, CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia; and Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company, Hong Kong SAR.

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Nepal Hosts First Regional Conference of Women in the Power Sector

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The first regional #WePOWER conference kicks off in Kathmandu, Nepal (photo: World Bank)

More than 250 engineers and energy-sector professionals represented their countries at the first regional conference of the Women in Power Sector Network in South Asia (WePOWER)–a forum to promote and diversify female practitioners’ opportunities in the power and energy sector. They included representatives from 60 participating institutions from local and international power utilities, energy sector organizations, and multilateral agencies.

Pravin Raj Aryal, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation in Nepal, opened the two-day conference. “Energy access and infrastructure development are critical elements in South Asia’s regional development strategy. However, women’s opportunities to contribute to the energy sector are limited, with a visible lack of gender diversity in technical and senior management positions,” he said.

He added that initiatives such as WePOWER would help nurture partnerships among women professionals, leading to an increase in their engagement across the sector. The conference was organized by the World Bank, with support from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian AID and Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

It drew senior and junior professionals and engineering students from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Besides panel discussions on the viability of jobs, skills, and opportunities in the sector, the conference also had a special interactive session for secondary school girl students to encourage them to find their footing in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

“WePOWER aims to support greater participation of women in energy projects and utilities, and promote normative change regarding women in STEM education,” said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.  “This initiative also fits the broader work of the World Bank, aimed at removing constraints for more and better jobs as part of our Gender Strategy.”

Caren Grown, World Bank Senior Director of the Gender Group, added: “Women’s low participation in the sector is a constraint to gender equality and equality of opportunities. It is imperative for men and women to have access to good quality jobs, and events like WePOWER reinforce this need.”

Peter Budd, Australian Ambassador to Nepal, opened the second day of the WePOWER conference and said, “Forums such as WePOWER are and will continue to be an important mechanism for deliberation on low carbon gender integrated pathways that meet the growth needs of the countries in the region.”

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Human Rights

Discover the new Right to education handbook

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photo: UNESCO

Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. However, millions are still deprived of educational opportunities every day, many as a result of social, cultural and economic factors.

UNESCO and the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) recently released the Right to education handbook, a key tool for those seeking to understand and advance that right. It is also an important reference for people working towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education. 

Why is this handbook important?

The aim of this handbook is to make sure that everyone enjoys their right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. It provides practical guidance on how to implement and monitor the right to education along with recommendations to overcome persistent barriers. It seeks to do this by:

  • Increasing awareness and knowledge of the right to education. This includes the normative angle of the right to education, states’ legal obligations, the various sources of law, what states must do to implement it, how to monitor it, and how to increase accountability.
  • Providing a summary of current debates and issues regarding education and what human rights law says about them, including on forced migration, education in emergencies, the privatization of education, and the challenge of reaching the most marginalized.
  • Providing an overview of the UN landscape and its mechanisms, including a clear understanding of the role of UNESCO and more generally the United Nations, as well as all relevant actors in education, particularly civil society.  

Who should use this handbook?

The handbook was developed to assist all stakeholders who have a crucial role to play in the promotion and implementation of the right to education. This includes:

  • State officials, to ensure that education policies and practices are better aligned with human rights.
  • Civil servants, policy-makers, ministers, and the ministry of education staff, officials working in ministries and departments of justice, development, finance, and statistics, as well as National Human Rights Institutions.
  • Parliamentarians, their researchers and members of staff will find this handbook useful in evaluating and formulating education, human rights, and development legislation, and in implementing international human rights commitments to national law.
  • Judges, magistrates, clerks, and lawyers and other judicial officials can use the material to explain the legal obligations of the state and how to apply them.
  • Civil society including NGOs, development organizations, academics, researchers, teachers and journalists will benefit from this handbook as it includes guidance on how to incorporate the right to education in programmatic, research, and advocacy work.

Those who work for inter-governmental organizations, including at key UN agencies, will find this handbook useful in carrying out the mandate of their organizations. Private actors, multilateral and bilateral donors, and investors can use this handbook to ensure their involvement complies with human rights and that they understand and can apply their specific responsibilities.

How to use this handbook?

The handbook was designed to be accessible. Each chapter starts with the key questions addressed in the chapter and ends with a short summary consisting of key points and ‘ask yourself’ questions, designed to make the reader think deeper about issues raised in the chapter or to encourage people find out more about the situation in their own country.

For more than 70 years, UNESCO has been defending and advancing the right to education, which lies at the heart of its mandate. It recently ran a digital campaign on the #RightToEducation to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Energy News

IEA launches World Energy Outlook in China

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Mr Li Ye, Executive Director General of China’s National Energy Agency speaks at the launch of the World Energy Outlook in China (Photograph: IEA)

IEA Chief Modeller Laura Cozzi launched the latest World Energy Outlook in Beijing on 23 January. The China launch brought together over 120 officials and experts drawn from government, academia and the power industry to discuss the latest global energy trends, and the outlook for the electricity.

During his opening remarks, Li Ye, Executive Director General of China’s National Energy Agency noted the strong IEA-China relationship that has delivered key results across a range of important areas of reform for China including: power market reform, distributed energy, renewables and gas market design.

At the IEA Ministerial meeting in 2015, China became one of the first countries to activate Association status with the Agency. Since then the IEA and China have been working closely together to achieve energy reform in China. In 2017, the IEA and China agreed a Three Year Work programme to boost energy policy analysis, promote clean energy systems, build capacity on energy regulation, and improve exchange of data on renewable energy and other resources.  The launch in Beijing was organised by the China Electricity Power Planning and Engineering Institute, which hosts IEA’s China Liaison Office.

The IEA’s work with China includes collaboration to draw upon best international practice in carbon emissions trading, and power market reforms that enables renewable energy to make a greater contribution to electricity supply. Work is ongoing with Chinese counterparts as the new Five Year Plan, and longer-term plans, are put in place to accelerate China’s clean energy transition.  The IEA will launch its latest work on China’s Power System Reform in Beijing on 25 February.

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