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11 Jan, 2019

Thailand plans seven ASEAN centres in 2019 to enhance regional sustainability, security and culture

Bangkok – Seven ASEAN Centres that could provide significant intellectual support for the growing challenge of managing the region’s rapidly growing travel & tourism industry are expected to be established/upgraded in Thailand over the course of 2019, when the kingdom will hold the chairmanship of the 10-member grouping.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Division Director Mrs Busadee Santipitaks said the centres would help the formulation of “evidence-informed policies, strategies and guidelines” in addressing the future challenges facing ASEAN over the next 50 years in the light of disruptive changes taking place across ASEAN’s three pillars — political-security, economic and socio-cultural.

Mrs Busadee Santipitaks

They will cover the fields of sustainable development, ageing societies, military medicine, cybersecurity, social welfare and culture. One more will be a satellite warehouse to help enhance ASEAN’s disaster response efforts.

As sustainability, cybersecurity, natural disasters and human resources issues are all critical challenges facing ASEAN tourism in the years ahead, they will give the Thai tourism industry easy access to a valuable pool of intellectual resources, early-warning trends and research as the industry shifts away from marketing to managing growth, right on its own doorstep.

For example, the importance of natural disaster management to travel and tourism manifested itself just earlier this week when some parts of Thailand’s popular coastal areas were hit by Cyclone Pabuk, forcing the evacuation of several thousand tourists.

Thailand currently is home to one other very active ASEAN unit, the ASEAN University Network, which is based at Chulalongkorn University (www.aunsec.org). The seven additional centres will give Thailand a total of eight, more than any other ASEAN country.

Two of the centres are already set up, one of which, the ASEAN Cultural Centre, is directly interlinked with tourism. It was originally opened in 2015 but never really took off. This year’s plan calls for an upgrading of that low profile.

Mrs Busadee said while Thailand will host the various centres, the detailed operational funding arrangements have yet to be sorted out. She said the centres are one of the key concrete deliverables pledged by Thailand in its one-year chairmanship.

Roughly 180 ASEAN official meetings across various levels and sectors are set for Thailand this year, many of direct relevance to travel & tourism. In addition, several hundred other ASEAN private sector meetings, trade fairs as well as association conferences and corporate events will also be held.

The MFA has set up a dedicated website to provide regular updates and further information: https://www.asean2019.go.th/en/

Mrs Busadee outlined details of the seven centres on 10 Jan in response to a question from this editor in her first media briefing of 2019 prior to the first official ASEAN meeting, a Foreign Ministers retreat in Chiang Mai between 17-18 January, as follows:

ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue

The Centre will serve as a platform for policy dialogue between ASEAN Member States, and between ASEAN and its external partners. It will also provide an institutional framework for ASEAN to implement the Complementarities Initiative, by promoting research and studies and enhance capacity building on sustainable development. The centre is based at the Center for Research on Sustainable Leadership, Mahidol University. (Focal Point: Ministry of Foreign Affairs) More info: http://thailand.prd.go.th/ewt_news.php?nid=6577

ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing and Innovation

The missions of the ACAI are to serve as a knowledge centre on active ageing and innovation, support evidence-informed policies, strategies and guidelines on active ageing, conduct capacity development program, as well as support the monitoring of progress of active ageing in ASEAN. (Focal Point: Department of Medical Services, Ministry of Public Health).

ASEAN Center of Military Medicine

The ACMM aims to establish practical, effective and sustainable cooperation amongst the military medical services of ADMM Plus countries. It is prepared to supplement humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation efforts in the region. Initially launched in 2016, it aims to be elevated as an Annex 1 entity, under the ASEAN Charter, in 2019. (Focal Point: Ministry of Defense)

Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) Satellite Warehouse

The establishment of the Satellite Warehouse in Chainat Province, Thailand, will enhance ASEAN’s disaster response efforts by increasing the efficiency and timeliness of the deployment of relief items to disaster-affected ASEAN Member States in mainland Southeast Asia. The Satellite Warehouse will work under the umbrella of the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) Centre in Jakarta. In the future, it may become a training centre to enhance logistics response capabilities of ASEAN officials involved. (Focal Point: Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Ministry of Interior)

ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre

The Centre will build capacity of the cybersecurity workforce within the ASEAN region through organisation of cybersecurity training on cyber defence exercises, digital forensics and malware analysis. (Focal Point: Electronic Transactions Development Agency (Public Organization) or ETDA, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society)

ASEAN Training Centre for Social Work and Social Welfare

The purposes and mission of the Centre are: to develop and provide training courses and curriculum on social work and social welfare for technical and professional skills for the development of social work and social welfare in ASEAN; to provide technical and professional skills, knowledge of social work and social welfare; to promote and develop quality of trainings and skill development; and to enhance collaboration amongst relevant stakeholders in training of social work and social welfare among ASEAN Member States. (Focal Point: Ministry of Social Development and Human Security)

ASEAN Cultural Centre

Established in 2015, the Centre is an interactive learning center on ASEAN culture in Thailand which will assume a more regional role to promote enhanced cultural understanding within ASEAN under the Thai initiative of designating 2019 as ASEAN Cultural Year. (Focal Point: Ministry of Culture).