September 2, 2013

APEC CEO Summit 2013: The Young Generation, The Powerful Assets of Indonesia

Indonesia is going to be the host of APEC CEO Summit held in Bali on October 5-8, 2013. It is the perfect momentum that we should appreciate and support – as the people of Indonesia with any brilliant idea we have – to build the stronger foundation of economy in Indonesia. Joining APEC is powerful step taken by Indonesia which implements the independent and active foreign policy. I believe that it is a great opportunity for Indonesia to promote its competitive advantages, to enlarge the channel of positive investments between other countries in order to strengthen domestic productivity and domestic markets due to prepare the free trade markets and international competitiveness, and to solve the international problems related to economy crisis which can threaten every country either developed or developing one.

Furthermore, the brainstorming process conducted these days by APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has been serious trigger for Indonesia to manage the dialogues among the private, public, and government sectors as the main triangle of economy systems and to produce the qualified framework of solutions to discuss in APEC CEO Summit 2013. The solutions have involved various layers of stakeholders so I believe the problems are reviewed from different point of views and can be accepted as the best solutions for Indonesia over interests of anyone. But, what becomes the most interesting thing? ABAC also gathers fresh thoughts and voices from the youth of Indonesia – treasures that used to be ignored – from this writing competition for instance.

Going toward the APEC CEO Summit 2013, Indonesia is going to carry three main priorities. They are achieving Bogor Goals, creating equality in sustainable development, and encouraging the connectivity. I believe that sustainable development can be approached by maintaining the equality between the APEC members and minimizing the gaps among the economy sectors from women, small and medium enterprises, friendly environment business, and innovation from the youth. So, what can we conclude from the statements above? Precisely, there is a clear relation between the role of youth and the priority that Indonesia sets.

Talking about sustainable development, we have to be grateful because the economy growth of Indonesia is fascinating. After 68 years of Independence Day, Indonesia can reach 6% of economy growth while other countries either in Europe or Asia still struggle after suffering global economy crisis. The economy scope in Indonesia is 20 times bigger than in 1994. Indonesia is the biggest country in South-East Asia and has the fastest financing turnover compared with other members. The growth of Indonesia is the second best in G20 forum. The main factor supporting Indonesia becomes economy global power is closely related with the development assets that Indonesia has. Indonesia is blessed with complete assets from abundant natural resources, qualified human resources, stable government, and strategic geographical position. As a very large country, Indonesia is still growing up and able to reach the economy performance based on its potential. But what we should realize that our economy is mostly driven by the domestic consumption over production and it makes us fragile. Those are some issues that should be concerns of young generation to create the development innovation in the future.

From that point of view, I can figure out that the young generation is the most valuable assets that Indonesia has – because the value is not depreciable, but the productive ages of generation mean the value will be increasing day after day. Indonesia can be named as the country which has never getting old – it is an antithesis of what is happening in some developed countries these days. Based on data from Ministry of Youth and Sport in Indonesia, population of young generation from 18 to 30 years old is about 62 million people and it equals with 15 times population in Singapore, still it doesn’t stop. Indonesia is blessed with demographic dividend and it will reach its climax in 2025 when we have about 167 million productive people. It is equal with the total population of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Unfortunately, that big opportunity can turn to be a trap, or ironically to be social disease that hurts its own nation when youth generation don’t realize their role and maximize the potential that they have to build themselves and their country. This is what APEC CEO Summit 2013 tries to boost – to let young generation know their roles and let them be the co-driver of Indonesia movement. It is the motivation that provided by Indonesia in APEC CEO Summit 2013 – to make young generation involve. I believe that the first step to prepare the successful young generation is to let them realize that “it is their era”. Today is my era. So, have you realized that it is the time for our generation? Are you ready to compete with friends in other countries? Are you willing to be tougher and less complaining? Do you dare to commit yourself today to make a brighter change for your future, for people around you, for Indonesia?

So, what can we do to leverage the momentum of APEC CEO Summit 2013 to make Indonesia more competitive in the Asia Pacific region? I believe that the big thing always starts from the simple thing, so I choose the “character” as the starting point of movement.

First, please, be sensitive.

It means not to be apathetically ignorant to what actually happens in our country. We should try to get to know what Indonesia suffers and what Indonesia needs, what our history teaches us, and what the consequences bring the future to us. The great country comes from the people who love their country, who care about their environment. The young demography doesn’t mean only being active in social media and forget about the real world. It is the irony. Start to be active from the place we live, the place we work – because the young generation should be a co-driver for the improvement of national productivity, enterpreneurship, creative economy, and many other ways that can take us to boost our competitive advantages in Asia Pacific scale. What is the duty of co-drivers? They set goal and create the map. Imagine if 62 million people of Indonesia in age 18-30 have the same willingness to contribute their thoughts – for example in this APEC CEO Summit 2013 – or any movement, it will be amazing because we have everlasting stock of resources. We have ideas.

Second, be more productive.

I believe that everyone knows very well one popular quote from J. F. Kennedy, “Don’t ask what the country has given to you, but ask what you have given to your country?” So what have you given? Again, we should start from the simple thing. Start from, “I have given ‘better version of myself’ to my country”. By what? “By being more productive”. Do something everyday that makes you more valuable and join the activity that motivates you to build your environment with everything we have. We can educate children with our knowledges, we can do productive investments with our money, and we can learn recycling something or do some small business with our skill. Imagine how many things that we can contribute if we all move to one same vision like that.

Again, in the scope of economy - why being more productive is very important for the competitiveness of Indonesia? As the fact that I give above, most of economy of Indonesia is driven by the domestic consumption. In the economy competition which is getting tighter, Indonesia is pushed to explore the alternative economy source for the prosperity of community and sustainability of development. The alternative solution is creative economy. We are now entering the forth period of industry era – it is creative industry which establishes creativity and innovation as the engine of economy growth. By being productive, creative industry can leverage the economy and create new job – it means decreasing the level of unemployment. Creative industry is very close to the spirit of young generation, and we are challenged to do it. Besides, being productive is very important to enlarge our domestic market. We have abundant natural resources, but unfortunately we still have to import things that we actually can produce by ourselves. We have Indonesia, but the irony is – we really don’t belong to Indonesia. Again, we are challenged to manage how to make Indonesia can produce by ourselves, from generating technology and building the competence of its human resources. We are big country with big amount of people, I believe we can do it. Young generation can make big change.

Third, build networking.

When you have resource, and you have networking – you are a winner. Indonesia still needs to learn from other country. Young generation should educate themselves more and more, then build good relationship to friends not only from Indonesia but also from other countries. It is amazing when we can share experiences and create the enterpreneurship or any cooperative networking with them. Of course, in order to build networking, we need skill. We, as the young generation, should improve our competence in language, in public speaking, in presentation, in any field that we master to let the eyes of the world pay attention to us – from the achievement, the manners, or the creativity we have to boost the competitiveness of Indonesia in Asia Pacific.

Winning always comes to them who prepare. In my opinion, I believe, the key of leveraging the momentum of APEC CEO Summit 2013 is to be well prepared. So, young generation, let’s smile and get prepared!

Note: This article is presented to participate in ABAC Writing Competition - APEC CEO Summit 2013

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