DAVAO: THE Brunrei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga) sub-ecobomic region has adopted a new pillar on socio-cultural and education during the 18th BIMP-Eaga Ministerial Meeting on November 17-20 in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.
“When this (socio-cultural and education pillar) was reported to the ministers, they immediately recognized the need to have it adopted and in fact the ministers have directed the senior officials to already start exploring activities that can be pursued under the new pillar and strategically aligned with the other clusters,” Romeo M. Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) investment promotions and public affairs director, told Sun.Star Davao in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
The new pillar is now the fifth pillar of the BIMP-Eaga, the other four are tourism, agribusiness, connectivity, and the environment. The proposal of the socio-cultural and education pillar was led by the Philippine delegation.
The new pillar is seen to promote unity, solidarity and greater understanding among the diverse communities of the sub-region; support the existing air, land, and sea transport connectivity; and provide the avenue for improving human resource capacities.
Montenegro said they will be including identified initiatives for the socio-cultural and education pillar during the BIMP-Eaga strategic planning activity next year.
“A presentation [of key initiatives] will be conducted by April of next year during the Leader’s Summit in Malaysia,” he said.
He said initiatives and activities under the socio-cultural and education pillar will be interlinked with other cluster initiatives. For example, cultural or student exchange programs can be held in conjunction with initiatives of connectivity and tourism.
“You identify activities under the socio-cultural and education pillar that will realize movement of people so that you have load for the connectivity that will be cooked up by the connectivity cluster. And that will complement the tourism facilities and locations that are being harnessed by the tourism cluster,” Montenegro said.
“Noting that social cultural activities can contribute to building strong foundation for greater understanding, good neighborliness, and a shared sense of responsibility, we agree to explore social-cultural and education as one of the pillars in BIMP-Eaga cooperation,” the ministers of BIMP-Eaga said in their joint statement on the 18th BIMP-Eaga Ministerial Meeting.
“Recognizing the important role of education in contributing to the establishment of an Asean Community that is people-centered and socially responsible, we agree to explore and promote cooperation among the higher learning institutions in developing academic and professional human resource in the sub-region,” the statement added.