Youth for Youth: YALPI in Thailand
BANGKOK – 100 young people from all over ASEAN and Asia spent their weekends in Chulalongkorn University, Thailand thinking of the best possible ways to improve ASEAN integration.
Founded four years ago by a group of students at Political Science Faculty, Chulalongkorn University, the oldest university in Thailand, the Young ASEAN Leaders Policy Initiative has grown in size and scope.
From a handful of students volunteered aspired to make their voices heard and created to make positive space for their fellow Political Science students, YALPI has become a vibrant avenue attracting students to come from all over the region and wide range of disciplines.
Ms. Artima Sompor, 3rd Year Political Science student said the crux of YALPI was students-led activity for better students engagement.
The four days event was packed with solid discussion from well-rounded speakers all over Thailand – ranging from the issues of political participation of youth to access to education to gender equality.
More importantly, there were critical spaces for brainstorming session such as on Wealth Inequality and Education Inclusion. Delegates engaged in rich discussion on the most pressing issues of the region and provided the time and space to think of possible solutions.
Students across the region sat around the table into the late nights and early mornings to debate and discuss the possibility to improve social problems. As the mentor of the Education team, I was impressed by the depth of knowledge, commitment to solve educational problems and creativity of the members of the group.
The lack of English was identified as the barrier to achieve greater economic integration, delegates from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan came up with an idea to create a social English club to improve the level of English in their respected country.
Endowned with different levels of English, the delegates discussed how best to attract volunteers and how well they can execute curriculums that will be conducive to the development of ASEAN. They debated rationale, they debunk myths and they offered a breath of fresh air to the old problems.
The rooms were filled with energy, enthusiasm and optimism. But the debates were heated with issues of feasibility and implementation.
For the delegates, this space allowed them to hone their critical thinking, communication and creative skills. It allowed them to form networks of like-minded youth to move the region forward. Students are required to problematize the issues, debates for solutions and draft a concrete plan.
For the organizers, this event makes their university life meaningful. Students from across faculties had the opportunities to discuss, share, plan and work together for a common cause. They need to be creative in solving organizational issues, they need to be confident in raising the funds and finding sponsors, they need to be critical in creating such solid agenda for everyone else to enjoy.
Thirwan Manleka, the co-president of YALPI and the 3rd year Political Science student, said “the team is working to create the space that preserves youth energy. We are dedicated and committed to do big things”.
And they succeeded.
The sheer spirit of teamwork that this YALPI organizing team exhibited is second to none. The power of the young is more eminent when they work in teams. No books can teach them this except the transformative experience of them actually working with other peers, colleagues, classmates and friends.
From an educator and youth advocate standpoint, more and more spaces and opportunities like this are needed across Thailand and the region. Everyone learns so much more when they actually – meet – discuss – act and share. In the age of uncertainty, such educational space that provokes them to think outside the box and beyond comfort zone but in such a safe space is needed more than ever before.
ASEAN integration sounds like an elusive dream that is written on the charter for a region rife with neighbouring conflicts, border issues and economic competition, but the friendship emanated from this four days event is a hopeful reminder the every big dream begins small and every success starts with a great team.
Behind the cancellation of Tesla’s investment in Indonesia
Authors: Yeta Purnama and Wulan Fitriana*
In April 2022, the issue of Tesla’s interest in investing in Indonesia attracted the attention of the domestic public, following a meeting held by Elon Musk, the owner of a prominent electric car company, with the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. The meeting discussed nickel raw materials for the electric car supply chain.
This was then followed up directly by President Jokowi during the implementation visit to SpaceX in May 2022. During the visit, they also did not reach an agreement, although in August 2022 Luhut said the value of the nickel purchase contract from Tesla reached US$ 5 billion or the equivalent of IDR 74.5 trillion. However, until mid-2023, an official agreement on Tesla’s investment plans had not yet been announced.
Instead of setting investment in Indonesia, recently Tesla was even rumored to be opening an electric car factory in neighboring Malaysia. Even though Indonesia has been intensively lobbying with a nickel concession offer to Tesla, the offer does not seem convincing enough to involve Indonesia in fulfilling the supply chain for battery raw materials at the company. For Tesla, a sustainable company comes first Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is the main reason to be considered. However, on the other hand nickel companies in Indonesia are still far away from being sustainable. This can be interpreted that one of the reasons for Tesla canceling its investment is because the company’s concern for ESG is still low.
Battery production ecosystem which is not sustainable
As a company that owns track record Pretty good ESG with shoes total 65/100 according to disclosure Refinitiv, there are at least two reasons why Tesla has not provided further information or even thwarted its intention to make Indonesia an investment destination. The first reason is regarding the poor production ecosystem. Several nickel mines in Indonesia have not even been included in the ESG rating agency which is an important aspect to attract international investors concern to climate change.
Second, half-hearted regulations in an effort to reduce emission reductions. For example, by perpetuating nickel mining companies meet energy needs by using coal-fired power plants to support smelter activities. The emission footprint in fulfilling the electric vehicle supply chain is a false solution for the government to reduce greenhouse gas emission reductions.
This is exacerbated by company non-compliance with regulations, one example is the downstream policy. It is known that illegal export of nickel ore occurred due to the export ban and required the process of refining nickel in the country. This fraud was also influenced by differences in the price of nickel ore at home and abroad. Miners tend to choose exports because the price of nickel ore in the domestic market tends to be lower than the export price.
This activity is known to have caused losses to the state due to loss of royalties and export duties from companies.
Even though the government has issued regulations as stated in the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Regulation Number 11 of 2020 concerning the Third Amendment to the Regulation of the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Number 07 of 2017 concerning Procedures for Setting Benchmark Prices for Sales of Metal Minerals and Coal. However, this has not been implemented properly in the field.
Based on the results of the 2021 evaluation, it shows that among the 73 companies, there are smelters, miners, and trader, there are as many as 65 companies that have been assessed according to the HPM, the rest are still not in accordance with the stipulated HPM and are even still under international regulations.
What needs to be done in the future
Inviting Tesla to become a net investor in the country is a fairly good effort from the government in diversifying cooperation partners, despite its dependence on investment from China which is quite problematic in the environmental and governance sectors. However, there are several things the government needs to do in the future to attract foreign investment, especially in maximizing the management of nickel resources in the country. First, it is necessary to carry out policy reforms that are truly serious in the energy transition effort.
One of them concerns the application of Risk-Based Licensing mandated by the Job Creation Law. This bill is not supported by the availability of a database on risk mapping, while environmental permits have been abolished, resulting in threats to environmental quality degradation.
Second, the government needs to retire dependence on fossil energy as early as possible, by starting a mix of energy transitions more quickly, including overcoming over supply electricity must pushed with policy. Because, currently the policies made by the government in making a road map for the transition of new energy and renewable energy in the EBET Bill are still half-hearted and there are still many fake solutions in the bill, for example such as geothermal and coal gasification which are actually efforts to extend the life of dirty energy in Indonesia. domestic.
Third, the government needs to carry out strict supervision and proper regulation. Especially regarding environmental and governance issues which are important aspects to create a more sustainable corporate ecosystem. Because of ideals net zero carbon will not be achieved effectively without involving a number of parties and stakeholders.
*Wulan Fitriana, Researcher at CELIOS.
ASEAN needs to walk a tightrope
The Quad leaders’ statement clearly reiterated the importance of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the context of the Indo-Pacific. Said the statement:
“Today we reaffirm our consistent and unwavering support for ASEAN centrality and unity. We are committed to ensuring the Quad’s work is aligned with ASEAN’s principles and priorities and continues to support implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)”
The statement also referred to Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2023.
This statement is important for several reasons. First, there have been differences between ASEAN and the US with several ASEAN leaders expressing concern over the consistent deterioration in ties between China and the US. Countries like Singapore have repeatedly reiterated, that they would not like to make choices between Beijing and Washington, since they share robust economic ties with both countries.
At the Boao Forum, often referred to as China’s Davos, held in March 2023, the Singapore PM again underscored the global ramifications of strained ties between China and the US. The Malaysian PM, Anwar Ibrahim perceived to be pro-US, expressed concern over US’ ‘decoupling’ from China.
Second, ASEAN countries which also share close economic links with the US have recently begun to speak about ‘De-dollarisation’ which refers to reducing dependence upon the US dollar for trade. The Malaysian PM, Anwar Ibrahim also spoke about Asian Monetary Fund (this idea was initially mooted by the Malaysian PM in the late 1990’s when he was Malaysia’s Finance Minister). Like many other regions, ASEAN is wary of US’ increasingly insular economic policies in recent years. While seven Asean countries — Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – are part of the US led IPEF (Indo Pacific Economic Framework) they have complained about IPEF not having a trade component.
Third, Indonesia has taken a different stance from the west on the Russia-Ukraine war. Like India, which is the current chair of G20, Indonesia too has pointed to the need for addressing disruptions caused to the global supply chains by the Russia-Ukraine war. Yet, it is an important stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific and is also important in the context of the goal of reducing economic dependence upon China and altering global supply chains. Apart from Vietnam and India, Indonesia has been one of the favoured countries for companies seeking to re-locate from China.
In spite of all the above differences, several ASEAN states have begun to show greater interest in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific. ASEAN came up with its first Indo-Pacific vision in 2018, but it has clearly stated that it’s approach vis-à-vis the Indo-Pacific is different from that of the US and not targeted at China. In recent months however, some ASEAN countries have begun to express their discomfort with regard to China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour on the South China Sea issue. Philippines, a US ally, which had in recent years been trying to strike a balance between US-China, has once again strengthened security ties with US. In February 2023, Philippines provided the US military access to four more military bases in the ASEAN nation. The US defence department while commenting on Philippines decision to grant access to four more military bases said that this:
“will make our alliance stronger and more resilient, and will accelerate modernization of our combined military capabilities,”
In conclusion, the ASEAN grouping is very important in the current geopolitical context and while it needs to walk a tightrope between China and the US it is an important player in the context of the Indo-Pacific for several reasons. As mentioned earlier, ASEAN countries are especially important in the changing economic architecture, where many western countries are seeking to reduce their dependence upon China and many US firms are expanding their operations in ASEAN countries – especially Vietnam. Apart from this, several ASEAN nations do not want to adopt a confrontationalist stance with Beijing due to their economic interests as well as geographical proximity but are not comfortable with China’s assertive behaviour and thus need to find common cause with the Quad.
Green Finance for a Greener ASEAN: ASEAN’s way to Sustainable Development
Climate change is one of the most serious environmental risks to any living species on the planet. ASEAN countries are experiencing the effects of global climate change. Climate-related disasters within the regions include an increase in the frequency of drought, changes in rapid rainfall and record-breaking rainfall violations, an increase in strong wind speed and intensity, an increase in the frequency of floods and cyclones, extremely high temperature rise, and sea level rise. As a result, many countries, including ASEAN, are attempting to combat climate change by using just and sustainable policy tools such as green financing and issuing green bonds.
What exactly is Green Finance?
Green finance, according to the G20 green finance research group in 2016, is “the financing of investments that provide environmental benefits in the context of environmentally sustainable development.” Green finance comprises all activities undertaken by commercial and public entities in designing, marketing, implementing, and supporting projects with long-term consequences using financial instruments.
Pollution, prevention, recycling, wastewater treatment, and waste systems initiatives are mentioned under population, waste, and water. Green finance policy includes private equity funds, loan agreements, and environmental protection via financial services such as stocks and insurance.
Green finance policy also refers to policies and organizational strategies aimed at attracting private investment in environmentally friendly businesses such as energy conservation and sustainable energy. Financial markets are increasingly using sustainable development goals to evaluate green and sustainable finance.
ASEAN Green Bonds
ASEAN countries account for six of the world’s major green bond markets, with a combined value of $2.5 trillion in 2016 (ADBI). In 2018, ASEAN issued a record number of green bonds. It is also another contribution to market development aimed at making the economy greener and more resilient by lowering regional carbon emissions. It is also one of the best methods to mitigate the effects of climate change and create a long-term vision of sustainable development goals.
Governments, banks, and corporation issue Green Bonds to raise funds for climate change solutions. Bond issuers whose income are sourced from climate-aligned assets and green business, according to the assessment of the ASEAN green finance State of the Market report. This issuer is also known as a Fully aligned climate issuer. Bond issuers with a climate score of 75% to 95% are likewise deemed strongly aligned.
According to the diversification of the ASEAN green bond market, non-financial firms are the largest group of green bond issuers, accounting for 30% of total issuance in the area from the issued date. Nonetheless, the issuance of non-financial organizations ranged from four issuers of the six ASEAN countries with a green bond market: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Green loans are also the most robust financial market, accounting for US$1.1 billion, or 22.5% of ASEAN’s total.
Opportunities for Green Investment in ASEAN Countries
According to the report made by UN and DBS, the cost of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals for all middle-income countries from 2016 to 2020 is estimated at US$22 trillion. Using 2016 GDP to allocate to ASEAN nations in this area suggests more than $5 trillion in regional investment prospects. If investment expenditures are considered long-term, the costs of achieving SDGs might approach $5 trillion over the same time span.
The green investment prospects for ASEAN countries were analyzed in primary sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, infrastructure, agriculture, and land use. The expected investment opportunity for developing solar, hydropower, and wind power projects based on renewable energy sectors is over US$ 400 billion. The expected investment prospects for developing ASEAN infrastructure projects linked to racial, telecommunication, climate mitigation, waste management, smart cities, and energy distribution are the biggest, with US$ 1,800 billion.
Using the expected assessment yields investment potential for ASEAN countries ranging from $2,650 billion to $3,000 billion between 2016 and 2030. There is empirical evidence that environmental and sustainable development policies are becoming increasingly rapid. On the other hand, technological prices are reducing quicker than expected.
The core framework for utilization of Green Finance
Although green finance resources are limited for optimal use in the construction of green infrastructure, the requirement for economic impact is to boost green finance investment. Furthermore, investment from both the public and commercial sectors will be required to close the green infrastructure deficit. Markets and public policy must generate opportunities for the government and private finance sectors.
The fundamental way to promote private sector participation in sustainable financing is to restructure investment tax credits and integrate both regulation and the private market into an efficient private-public partnership.
Because corporations worsen social exclusion and environmental degradation, green financial markets must be effectively controlled to support green projects. A stronger emphasis on developing environmentally and socially responsible productivity in resource-based businesses can contribute to higher living standards and a more robust economy in society.
These were large and complex questions facing ASEAN countries when implementing the green initiatives. At a minimum, they had to decide what, if any, fine-tuning adjustments needed to be made in their green finance strategies. The question is, where to next?
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