Young people are the most affected target population in the world with regard to drug abuse. More people are abusing drugs today than in any other time in history. The connection between youth and drug abuse raises several questions. The answers lead to the realization that youth culture is a peer group culture. They prefer to listen to each other than to any other authorities or elders in the society. Very often, youth land in trouble due to peer pressure, curiosity, fun, and above all due to wide availability of drugs in their communities.
Today drug prevention strategies are governed by peer-led interventions. If youth are affected, youth only can save themselves. To address this alarming drug problem, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, (CPDAP) has been organising the Asian Youth Congress (AYC), a large gathering of youth leaders from Asia-Pacific region against drug abuse. The AYC unites young educators and youth leaders in the field of preventive drug education. They share information and ideas on current drug trends and new information and fresh ideas in the prevention field. This programme is one of the biggest annual events of the CPDAP.
The AYC is a congregation of youth leaders and young people from various Asian countries, especially from the Colombo Plan member countries. They are nominated by the drug Focal Points of the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme (CPDAP) based on the criteria set by the CPDAP. In other cases, they are identified by NGOs or express an interest by directly contacting CPDAP. Some participants are directly recruited by the Colombo Plan based on their field of studies and curriculum vitae. Scholarships are also given to award winners of previous year to attend the AYC. AYC is a capacity-building/training, to empower youth with skills. The participants take that knowledge with them to apply in their communities. Two to four participants from each country attend the AYC to learn how to launch drug prevention campaigns in their communities.
In 2002, CPDAP organised the inaugural Asian Youth Congress in Bali, Indonesia to mobilise Asian youth in drug prevention field. Since then, eight Asian Youth Congresses had been organised across Asia, the last one in Japan, 9 – 11 July, 2012.
- 2011,Thimphu, Bhutan – 8th Asian Youth Congress
- 2009, Palawan, Philippines – 7th Asian Youth Congress
- 2008, Bali, Indonesia – 6th Asian Youth Congress
- 2006, Chang Mai, Thailand – 5th Asian Youth Congress
- 2005, Penang, Malaysia – 4th Asian Youth Congress
- 2004, Singapore – 3rd Asian Youth Congress
- 2003, Male, Maldives – 2nd Asian Youth Congress
- 2002, Bali, Indonesia – 1st Asian Youth Congress