To provide context and focus for areas pertinent to community engagement and development across the region, the conference has adopted the following themes:

1. Climate Change, Environment & Community Development

Community engagement can play an important role in helping nations respond to climate change disasters and raise awareness for the environment.  Managing environmental disasters through climate mitigation measures and adaptation strategies act to maximize opportunities for informed discussion and action while minimizing the impacts on disadvantaged individuals, households and communities.  Another interesting aspect of community development and the environment covers a wide range of activities, from caring for Mother Nature by recycling and switching off lights when not in use, to bigger and more sustainable actions like using ‘green’ transportation or building ‘green’ homes. It is important to connect people with the ecosystems that support them, and to utilize the knowledge, technology and resources available to live sustainably. Until we are aware of and understand how our actions force nature to adapt, we will not change our actions and habits for the betterment of the communities we live in and the world at large.

Topics related to this theme may include:

  • Implementing effective disaster relief efforts across ASEAN and Asia
  • Using sustainable technology to address climate change problems
  • Educating the community on environmental awareness
  • Developing climate change advocacy, policies and adaptation plans
  • Developing  diverse climate mitigation measures and adaptation strategies
  • Communicating information about climate change trends, impacts and actions to diverse audiences
  • Providing integrated and tailored systems to support skill development and capacity building among people working on climate change issues (e.g. resource manuals and tool kits, education workshops,’ train the trainer’ programs etc.)


2. Social Enterprise & Community Development

A social enterprise is a business which is formed to provide employment, services or create income for community benefit.  Social enterprises are present in almost every sector the economy, such as banking, insurance, agriculture, education, heritage, commercial services, tourism and healthcare.  Ideally such ventures are created in response to an un-met community need.   The most sustainable and productive social enterprise initiatives are participatory in nature, where the users of the social enterprise services are represented at all levels of decision making within the enterprise.  Vibrant and innovative social enterprise initiatives can strengthen the capacity of universities to transform regional communities. These initiatives may be undertaken in partnership with like-minded stakeholders from industries, NGO’s, foundations or government agencies. The benefits of such initiatives are many, including reducing and preventing poverty, providing training and re-skilling for employment opportunities, as well as providing other critical services to improve the quality of life for marginalized communities across ASEAN and Asia.

 Topics related to this theme may include:

  • Enhancing employment opportunities and income generation in regional communities
  • Empowering at-risk youth through social enterprise and entrepreneurship
  • Developing innovative business models to address the needs of  marginalized communities
  • Measuring the extent to which a social enterprise achieves social, financial and environmental sustainability
  • Innovative mechanisms and partnerships that can fund social enterprise ventures
  • Developing innovative social enterprise models for service learning

3. Health and Community Development

Health and community development correlate directly with each other. Physical and emotional wellbeing that raises the quality of life should be accompanied with improvements towards the social fabric of the community, reducing the many social inequalities that prevent a person from affordable, good quality health. With only 4 years left until the deadline of 2015 Millennium Development Goals where four out of eight goals relate to health betterment, there is a need to quicken the process of changing people’s perception towards the importance of health towards self, family and community as well as providing sustainable health solutions at the same time. This subject also tackles the notion that altering one’s environmental and living conditions will have a strong impact on reducing the occurence of diseases, and in turn improves their health and vitality.

Topics related to this theme may include:

  • Educating the community with knowledge and tools to manage health issues
  • Providing improved & sustainable community health and environment facilities e.g. sanitation, access to healthcare, immunization & vaccination programmes, adequate supplement and nourishment, effective treatment for infectious diseases and many more
  • Applying innovative research to address community healthcare and social wellbeing needs
  • Empowering the women on their role in the family especially on prevention of infectious diseases such as HIV & Aids and enhancement of maternal health.

4. Education & Community Development        

Education is indisputably the most effective way to shape the values, attitudes, behaviors and skills which will make it possible to function effectively in an integrated world society. Many higher education institutions around the world are located within communities that have high rates of unemployment and poverty, and growing levels of crime, drugs, and other social maladies. Through innovative education-based community engagement initiatives, universities can address these social maladies and significantly empower these communities.  Education is also the key to gender equality and to larger employment opportunities for women, for reforming youth-at-risk and promoting social integration within the region.

Topics related to this theme may include:

  • Implementing educational initiatives that impact gender inequality and empower women
  • Enhancing social integration through initiatives to foster awareness of ‘unity in diversity’
  • Impacting the academic achievement of rural and urban-poor students
  • Transforming youth-at-risk through innovative educational reform
  • Enhancing employment opportunities and income generation through education
  • Developing the area of ‘voluntourism’  through strategies to educate the communities on ASEAN and Asian heritage
  • Implementing effective strategies to narrow the digital divide between communities

5. Youth & Under-served Communities            

About 60 percent of the world’s youth population lives in Asia. The United Nations project an increase to 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 by the year 2025, and 1.3 billion by 2050. Given these statistics, youth remain to be the region’s greatest asset in carrying out community development programmes through youth-led volunteerism as well as service learning initiatives.  Efforts need to be made to change stakeholders’ perception of the youth population ‘as a solution and not a problem’ – a promising resource that may be guided and mobilized to meet the service needs of the regional communities.  This is especially true for the youth from under-served communities. There is a critical need for innovative engagement initiatives that provide the opportunities for all youth to become self-reliant and contributing members of the society whilst developing the human capital of the ASEAN and Asian region.

Topics related to this theme may include:

  • Inspiring, guiding and training youth to carry out community-based volunteerism initiatives
  • Integrating innovative youth-led volunteerism and service learning initiatives into the curriculum
  • Empowering youth in under-served communities through work-based experiences that enhance  opportunities for future employment
  • Innovative interventions to combat  youth-related societal issues  (crime, drugs, etc)
  • Preparing youth for responsible citizenship through involvement in community service
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