IN the 17th Asean-Canada Dialogue on August 11, the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) tackled Asia-Pacific regional architecture, the global economic environment, cooperation on countering violent extremism and terrorism, people-to-people exchanges, as well as developments in the bloc and the North American country.
The Philippines’s SOM Leader Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, who led discussions on setting the direction of future dialogue relations, suggested practical modalities that will advance and enhance Asean-Canada cooperation. These include practical suggestions to maximize the Asean-Canada Plan of Action by socializing it with other sectors of the region’s community and enhancing the matrix of recording the implementation of action lines in the Asean-Canada Plan of Action, and devoting close attention to a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)-responsive framework based on the Asean Pandemic Recovery Programme in the immediate future while continuing traditional areas of socioeconomic and political/security cooperation.
The senior officials agreed the challenges posed by the pandemic will continue to require a collective response from the international community.
On the Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development initiative, or SEED, Buensuceso proposed that the Asean-Canada Joint Coordination Committee and Asean Secretariat and/or the Asean Committee in Ottawa be included in the selection of candidates to ensure that specific needs of the region’s member-states are addressed.
The Philippine SOM leader invited Canada to align its Feminist International Assistance Policy with Asean priorities as outlined in the 2017 Asean Declaration on the Gender-Responsive Implementation of the Asean Community Vision 2025 and Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in Asean, specifically by supporting the work of the Asean Women for Peace and Reconciliation Registry and other initiatives.
Finally, Buensuceso emphasized the importance of establishing a dedicated Asean-Canada Cooperation Fund to support the two entities’ collaborative programs that will allow the partnership to undertake more projects and bloc-based activities. DFA