The ASEAN FUTURE FORUM 2024 – premier event organized by Vietnam

On April 23, 2024, took place in Hanoi the ASEAN FUTURE FORUM 2024, with the theme  “Toward Fast and Sustainable Growth of a People-Centred ASEAN Community”, to materialize the initiative launched  by the Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minch Chinh at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, last year, on the officially explained  ground that after six decades of establishment, ASEAN is now entering a new stage of development after having accomplished the ASEAN Community Vision 2025  and starting the ASEAN Vision 2045, which currently is under the process of finalization,  at a time of a world of uncertainties and opportunities and profound changes. Strategic competition among major powers has returned, creating ever greater geopolitical complexities that may gravely undermine the peace and stability in the region and beyond. Meanwhile, rapid socio-economic changes are underway. The world as we know will look very different in the next 10 to 15 years.

Further, it is added that under these circumstances, Vietnam considers that there is an urgent need for ASEAN to create  a platform for stakeholders to contribute ideas and initiatives on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s future vision, involving Government leaders, policymakers, experts, and representatives of the business community from ASEAN member states and international partners and friends. Such a channel is going to be the ASEAN FUTURE FORUM 2024, which is expected to become an annual event.

In the introduction to the Forum, called “Vision”, the host country summarized the essence of its diplomatic initiative by underlining that:

-              “The ASEAN Future Forum aims to become an annual multi-stakeholder, track 1.5 dialogue platform for open and constructive dialogues on the future of ASEAN;

-              Our mission is to contribute to shaping a resilient, inclusive, and forward-looking ASEAN that effectively adapts to the changing regional and global environment while upholding its core values and meeting the needs of its Member States;

-              Through the Forum, we will address critical questions about ASEAN's future relevance and centrality, while exploring innovative ideas and practical steps to ensure ASEAN's continued success in promoting peace, security, and development in the region, as well as contribute to the global agenda such as the upcoming UN Summit of the Future.”

The ASEAN FUTURE FORUM was attended by 500 delegates.

The Keynote speakers during the Opening Session were the Prime Ministers of Vietnam and Laos, ASEAN Chair 2024. The Opening Session was concluded with the speech of the Secretary-General of ASEAN.

Significant contributions to the success of the event came, in different forms and positions as per the format of the event, from the Prime Ministers of Malaysia, ASEAN Chair 2025, Thailand, Secretary General of the United Nations, President of the Philippines,  Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, Minister of Information and Communications of Vietnam, Minister of SMEs and Start-ups of the Republic of Korea, Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Former Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Marty Natalegawa, and Singapore, George Yeo.

The Forum had two sessions, respectively, “ASEAN’S Rapid Development for a Sustainable Future”, having as moderator Ambassador, Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, Founder of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia- FPCI – one of IRSEA’s partner in Indonesia and “Ensuring Comprehensive Security for a People-Centred ASEAN Community”, moderator being Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam and former ASEAN SOM Leader of Vietnam.

In addition to plenary sessions, there was a business session on how to optimize development opportunities amidst the current digital transformation. It was co-chaired by Prime Ministers of Vietnam and Laos with the participation of experts and enterprises of Vietnam, ASEAN and partner countries. The session was expected to offer a chance for businesses to look into advantages, difficulties and opportunities in the context of digital transformation, and build new networks.

In his closing speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam appreciated that in-depth discussions at the event have provided regional countries and stakeholders with valuable insights to reflect on and reaffirm the importance of collective efforts in shaping a brighter future for the ASEAN community. Some participants proposed unique approaches to adapting and addressing regional challenges.

He also stressed that delegates highlighted the ASEAN’s pivotal role in further maintaining peace and stability.

The summary of opinions raised at the forum will be submitted to ASEAN high-ranking leaders through official channels. The proposals are also going to be forwarded to the UN as one of its contributions to preparations for the UN Summit of the Future in this September. According to the official point of view, the summary presented to the UN Summit of the Future will be a testament to the harmony between the regional efforts and the broader global agenda, an active contribution of ASEAN in global governance and a confirmation of its commitment to being a responsible and proactive member of the international community.

In our opinion, the diplomatic and political move of Vietnam came in a proper time. No one can contradict its appreciation that the ASEAN Future Forum represents a provocative initiative to create an inclusive platform for meaningful dialogue and solutions to the pressing questions that will have a great impact on the future of the people of ASEAN. Indeed, as well, ASEAN is confronted, according to the same appreciation, with shared challenges, such as how to maintain its centrality as the strategic environment changes, how to balance the diverse interests of member states, how to ensure harmony between innovation and the preservation of ASEAN's core values.

The initiative of Vietnam got the support from all participants at the Forum. A high ranking official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam appreciated that the organization of the ASEAN Future Forum “will be one of the biggest events for Vietnam’s foreign relations activities this year”.

The results of this premier initiative to organize the ASEAN Future Forum, expected to become an annual Forum, and the contribution based on it of the ASEAN at the UN Summit of the Future in September this year, for certain, will consolidate Vietnam’s image as a proactive and influential player in the Association as well as its position as one of the regional powers in Asia-Pacific, representing, in our opinion, two of the fundamental national diplomatic targets of Vietnam. 


The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.