The Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting kicked off in Bangkok on Wednesday, attended by foreign ministers from ten Asean member countries. (Photo courtesy of Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Asean Faces Sea Change in Environment, Politics, Technology: Thai FM


JULY 31, 2019

Bangkok. Foreign ministers from ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, kicked off a series of ministerial meetings on Wednesday in Bangkok, during which Thailand's Don Pramudwinai warned of a great sea change in the environment, political stability and technology in the region. 

"This year we are becoming more aware of a great sea change coming our way regardless of our readiness [to face it]," the Thai foreign minister said in his opening speech on Wednesday.

Countries in Asean will start to feel the impact of climate change in the Arctic. Greenland's ice sheet is now melting at a rate twice as fast as the historical average, Pramudwinai said. This will cause enormous ecological degradation whose impact will be felt far and wide.

Politically, the world is experiencing a rise in extreme nationalism which could threaten long-term shared interests between countries, he said.

In technology, the internet is changing human behavior and outlook in ways that history has never seen.

"Asean needs to be more agile. We need to augment our ability to anticipate this sea change. [We need to identify] our weapon of strategic thinking, an effective response that can turn this sea change into opportunities," Pramudwinai said.

Indonesia's Retno Marsudi is one of the ten foreign ministers participating in the meetings, which were opened by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.