Jakarta, IO – Indonesia is back to hosting ASEAN 42nd Summit this year, its fourth since the first one in Bali in 1976. It is interesting to observe the country’s preparations, in assuming its chairmanship this time around. It is also important to note the meaning and impact of the outcomes of the highest policy-making body in ASEAN for Indonesia and the wider region. The Summit will see the gathering of heads of government/state of ASEAN member countries to discuss, reach consensus, declare and formulate concrete efforts to deal with strategic issues in the economic, social, cultural and security fields in ASEAN and beyond.
There are at least two important things that need to be observed, in terms of Indonesia’s readiness to host the high-profile event. First, the identification of strategic issues and substance to be discussed, agreed upon and declared by the heads of ASEAN member states, as well as concrete action plans to implement the agreement/ declaration. Second, readiness in terms of infrastructure, facilities and security, as well as the technical implementation of all activities throughout.
Setting the agenda
As the host, Indonesia promotes the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth” with the aim of bolstering ASEAN as the epicenter of global growth and a regional powerhouse to respond to emerging global challenges. In line with this theme, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has since 2021 said that Indonesia’s chairmanship is expected to become a locomotive for stability, security and prosperity in the region.
To this end, ASEAN needs to present a unified front in responding to lingering problems and challenges facing the region, while maintaining its centrality and relevance. ASEAN must be able to bring real benefits to society and make a real contribution in finding solutions to the multidimensional crisis affecting the world.
There are at least three central issues that ASEAN is faced with, namely, climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, and geopolitical tensions resulting from great power rivalry. These issues will directly or indirectly have a real impact on the production, supply chain and access to food by the population, at a regional and global level, which could lead to a potential food crisis. If this occurs, it will certainly disrupt or hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially that of goal number 2, namely, to “end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
ASEAN comprises countries with tropical climates, along with enormous natural and environmental resources to produce food for their populations, and at the same time meet the global food demand. However, each country, and by extension the region, is faced with these challenges: (a) the population continues to grow and requires access to sufficient food, i.e., food security; (b) the potential of agricultural resources that needs to be maintained, preserved and increased; (c) the risk of a food crisis caused by climate change, pandemic, geopolitical conflicts and natural disasters. These challenges need to be comprehensively addressed and they call for joint agreements and concrete steps from all ASEAN member countries.
In light of the President’s direction and development of strategic issues and global challenges, the Agriculture Ministry and National Food Agency (Bapanas), together with representatives from relevant ministries/agencies and the Foreign Ministry, have prepared draft resolutions to be declared and adopted by the heads of ASEAN member countries at the Summit.