The development challenges facing Asia are complex. This is further compounded by rising inequality and global uncertainty on several fronts. The young people in Asia find themselves in the midst of these challenges; however as a paradox, the past few years have also opened many opportunities for the youth in Asia.
We certainly find a unique convergence where there is an increased participation of the private sector, the financial sector (in the form of impact funds), breakthrough in technology (in the form of mobile apps) and the clamor amongst youth to find relevance in what they do. Some of the governments in Asia, have recognized this converging trends and have started promoting policies which will further support the better engagement of youth. To sustain the interest and build on the fledgling successes seen since 2010, a forum was designed to discuss the various trends as a whole and not as individual items.
Representatives from the private sector, youth groups, and government actively participated in “The Great Equalizer: ICT for Inclusive Development” – a forum, jointly organized by ADB NGO and Civil Society Center (NGOC) and ASSIST, in partnership with Madras School of Social Work and AsianNGO. This forum was part of the Civil Society Program of the 48th Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Organized as a multi-location based web-enabled meeting, the event gathered distinguished speakers from Baku (Azerbaijan), Chennai (India), and Manila (Philippines) who have used technology for good in their respective fields. Through this set-up, the forum added credence to the use of technology and also managed costs as it brought many contributors with varying perspectives to the table.
The programme included:
1-hour live streaming among 3 locations (Baku, Chennai, Manila) on ICT for Inclusive Development
1-hour country-specific discussion on ICT for Inclusive Development
Around 60 individuals were in attendance in Baku, while 35 and 54 individuals participated in Chennai and Manila, respectively. The 1-hour interconnection among the three locations brought up different views on ICT for development, specifically on topics covering ICT for youth employment and empowerment, public connectivity, mobile financing and health. Also, the importance of a viable business model was emphasized in this part of the programme. After such, each location continued with their own local panel discussion.
In the Baku Panel are:
Mr. John Barrett Trew of Plan International
Mr. Emil Aghjayev of ADA University
Dr. Sanae Fujita of University of Essex
Mr. Rahid Alekberli of ADA University
This panel is moderated by Sreenivas Narayanan, ASSIST Group Managing Director
In the Chennai Panel are:
Mr. L Somasundaram of Akara Research & Technologies
Mr. Kevin Devasia of Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation
Ms. Sundari Sivasubba of HCL Foundation
This panel is moderated by Marian Thomassen, ASSIST Project Manager
In the Manila Panel are:
Ms. Bettina Quimson of DOST-ICTO
Ms. Gigi Gatti of Grameen Foundation
Mr. Ron Hose of Coins.ph
Dr. Susheela Venkataraman of ADB
This panel is moderated by Olga Babina, ASSIST Social Actions Manager