by Romi Nhung
Published on: Mar 29, 2005
Type: Opinions

First launched in October 2002, the Millennium Campaign has proved to be one of the most unique global movements motivating people around the world to engage and take action in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Youth from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should unquestionably not be the outsiders of that scalding international crusade against extreme poverty by 2015. The MDG “Awareness” campaign, the first of the three ‘A’s (Awareness - Advocacy – Action) has, in particular, a magnetizing effect on young people in the region. However, to be fully aware of that fact is not easy. A group of young ASEAN leaders, the Singapore International Foundation ASEAN Student Fellowship Alumni, suggested that, “A lot more should be done to raise the awareness of the MDGs among young people.” In fact, that is a suggestion and a reminder to themselves as well.

Several recent surveys conducted among young people in ten ASEAN countries (one of which can be found at: indicate that not many of them have ever heard of either the MDGs or the Millennium Campaign. A considerable number of youth who have heard, unfortunately, have a vague knowledge about it. It seems only those who have a chance to attend some international conferences or do research on some related subjects are likely to get information about the MDGs. This might raise a question of why the MDGs, even though approachable in reality, are still not accessible enough to people, more specifically, to youth in the region.

Generally, people should be aware of a fact that, unlike the other sets of commitments that a national government has ever made, the eight MDGs show more than a unanimously global desire for a sustainable tomorrow. In the 2000 Millennium Declaration, government leaders from the highest political level of every country committed themselves to the MDGs to eradicate extreme poverty across the planet by 2015. However, this pledge can never be accomplished without the participation of people all around the world. Thus, world citizens in general and ASEAN citizens in particular should have joint efforts together with their governments.

“The young have the energy, drive and idealism to promote and ensure the embrace of the objectives of the MDGs and the Millennium Campaign,” says Farhan Bin Ali, a Psychological Student at the National University of Singapore.

It is crucial for youth to be conscious of the MDGs and of their potential and responsibility to campaign around these goals. Youth can make the first move with their own plans, joining their national, regional and our international movement. In this case, the “From perception to action, it is a process” ideology is inept because among the first steps young people can make, the MDG Awareness campaign is not out of reach, and they may choose the same way of being informed. Examples in some countries of the ASEAN community have shown that there are a significant number of young people who were first inspired by some motivated MDG activists. These young people then questioned themselves as to why they could not be as much motivated to make a difference. When youth are critical of themselves in that way, they will respond passionately with positive actions.

The MDG Awareness campaign should be the first and foremost action that any ASEAN youth can take, as well as contributing to the Millennium Campaign in the region. Simply, they can bring the MDG messages closer to young people of the same age, to their family, their relatives, their neighbours and naturally give them some inspiration through some talks and some stories. When going further, many of them perceive that mass media will certainly enhance the effectiveness of their actions. But what is still lacking is how to make best use of mass media. Through different channels, programmes on radio and television, through loads of both electronic and paper magazines, bulletins and newspapers, the Southeast Asian youth can reach more and more people. Among the most practicable approaches, there are news, interviews, articles, reports, talks, forums, debates and discussions on the eight MDGs. In fact, in some countries of the region, there have been several successful activities promoting MDGs through mass media that attracted many youth. Some good examples are: The Young Initiative to Promote Volunteerism for the MDGs Competition, the Towards a Better World music quiz programme, and the MDG Youth Concert in Vietnam.

After all, the MDG Awareness campaign is a fundamental start for young people to tap into the other two ‘A’s: Advocacy and Action. Furthermore, it is good in every way that people often choose to participate in the Millennium Campaign, or at least to be responsible citizens, who “hold their governments to account for the promises they made at the September 2000 Millennium Summit.” More and more young people of the Southeast Asia region keep that in mind and continuously remind themselves that “A lot more should be done.”

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