8 Dec 2016
Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a Seminar
titled “ASEAN…An Inclusive and Accessible Community”
as part of Thailand Friendly Design Expo 2016
On 3 December 2016, which is observed around the world as the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Department of ASEAN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the Friendly Design for All Foundation and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), organized a seminar titled “ASEAN…An Inclusive and Accessible Community” at IMPACT, Muang Thong Thani. The event, aims at promoting knowledge and raising awareness about ASEAN’s work regarding persons with disabilities and ageing population, was part of Thailand Friendly Design Expo 2016.
Contributing panelists included Ms. Phasporn Sangasubana, Deputy Director-General of the Department of ASEAN Affairs; Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Thai Representative in ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights; Mr. Christopher Benjakul, the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD); and Ms. Wantanee Phantachat, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA); with Ms. Urawadee Sriphiromya, Director of Social and Cultural Division, Department of ASEAN Affairs, as the moderator.
Driving the Inclusive Diplomacy, the seminar was a success and attracted a large turnout. Dr. Nonthasoot called for ASEAN not to place issues concerning persons with disabilities only under the umbrella of Social and Cultural Community, but Political and Security as well as Economic Communities, in order for these issues to be fully addressed. Meanwhile, Mr. Benjakul shared his experiences working with 60+ Bakery & Café, a disability-inclusive bakery shop providing on-the-job training opportunities for persons with disabilities. Inaugurated in 2015 on the occasion of the 60th Birthday Anniversary of H.R.H. Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn, the 60 + Bakery & Café project is supported by the APCD and Thai Yamazaki Co. Ltd. Furthermore, Ms. Sangasubana emphasized that the ASEAN Vision 2025, the ASEAN Community is aspired to a more inclusive community. This would entail the promotion of equitable access to opportunities and the promotion as well as the protection of human rights for all ASEAN peoples including the elderly and persons with disabilities. In 2011, Thailand successfully pushed for the signing of “Bali Declaration on the Enhancement of the Role and Participation of the Persons with Disabilities in ASEAN Community” by leaders of all ASEAN Member States. The said declaration proclaims the years 2011-2020 the ASEAN Decade of Persons with Disabilities, promoting disability-inclusive development within ASEAN. In addition, the subject of “Silver Economy” was raised by Ms. Phantachat a key issue under Thailand’s 20 Year Reform Plan. It was further elaborated that since many ASEAN countries including Thailand is becoming an ageing society, NSTDA and Ministry of Industry are working together to develop innovations to cater to changing needs of population such as food, Smart Tourism, health, lifestyle and ICT products for the elderly.