Nearly 120 youths from 15 countries participated in the 8th Asian Youth Congress, which was held at Thimphu, Bhutan from 19-22 September 2011. “Together We Can” was the theme of the Congress, which drafted a youth declaration to stand “united” against the growing threat of drug abuse in Asian communities.
The Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme (CPDAP) organized this event in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education and the Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA).
The primary objective of the Congress was to build and maintain a global network through which effective resilience against drug abuse and lessons learnt are shared.
The opening ceremony was graced by the Hon. Minister of the Ministry of Education, the Directors of Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA) and the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS), representatives from the Colombo Plan and several officers of MOE, NGOs and the youth delegates from 15 countries.
The Youth Congress was inaugurated by Hon. Minister Lyonpo Thakur S Powdyel, Ministry of Education who highlighted the drug problem in Bhutan and expressed hope that youth gatherings like AYC could lay a foundation for the anti drug campaign in Bhutan.
Mr. Tay Bian How, the chief trainer and Director of the Colombo Plan certification Programme said that the AYC is one of the largest annual events of the Colombo Plan intended to bring together young people from Asia and Pacific region to share their experiences in drug demand reduction programmes in their region. He said AYC is a platform, which propagate the fact that “unity is strength”.
The youth have been an important priority target for the donor agency as they (youths) can make visible changes in the drug demand reduction scenario in the society. He said youths from different countries can work together with some viable networking and collaborations to achieve greater heights in drug prevention.
Ms. Yangchen Dolkar from Bhutan, a youth representative asserted that “together we can” make a difference in the society provided all the youth decides to work together for drug free communities around them.
Plenary sessions on the theme of the Congress and country presentations on youth led initiatives were held as part of the Congress, besides life-skills training, exposure visits and action planning for youth declaration.
The participants have developed an action plan for their respective countries and came out with a Youth Declaration. The declaration emphasized the need for youth led initiatives in the field of drug prevention and resolved to stay away from any addictive substances as a first step to provide leadership in drug demand reduction programmes.
One full day of outing was organized as part of the 8th Asian Youth Congress in which both the international and local participants received ample opportunities to mix together and understand each other’s cultural values. The outing was intended to give an insight into the cultural richness of Bhutan by visiting its cultural capital, Punakha. The participants visited the sacred Buddhist temple and some historical monuments. A cultural night gave each participant a chance to depict the cultural ethos of his or her respective countries.
The CPDAP started to implement this initiative for the first time in Bali, Indonesia in 2002, 2nd in Maldives, 3rd in Singapore, 4th in Penang, Malaysia, 5th in Chiang Mai, Thailand and 6th in Bali, Indonesia and the 7th in Palawan, Philippines.