69 young leaders aged 20-35 from all ten member countries of ASEAN convened in Singapore from May 16-21, 2017, to explore the opportunities and challenges that come with urbanization. They heard from a myriad of speakers from the public, private and non-profit sectors on a range of topics, including the developing demographic trends in ASEAN that affect urban planning, the livability of cities, the greening of urban landscapes, balancing land-use for economic purposes with heritage and conservation, the use of technology and smart cities, as well as water management and sanitation.
Participants also visited various organizations like Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Housing and Development Board (HDB), where they engaged with professionals who introduced them to Singapore-style urban planning. They discussed methods and strategies including a whole-of-government approach, cross-sector partnerships, public consultations, and long-range planning that takes into account Singapore’s ever-changing needs as both a city and country. Participants also engaged actively with each other to discuss how planning solutions used in Singapore and elsewhere in the region can be tweaked and implemented in their home communities.
Aside from gaining knowledge, participants also had plenty of fun! They took part in a cultural gala on the third evening, where they showcased their countries’ various cultures and traditions through short performances. Guests at the cultural gala included the Guest-of-Honor, Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council, Agnes Kwek, the U.S. Embassy Singapore’s Chargé d’Affaires, Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Ambassadors and representatives from the various ASEAN missions in Singapore, and senior officials from the Singaporean government. They also had the opportunity to enjoy a cruise down the Singapore River, and chow down on local delights at one of Singapore’s famous hawker centers, Gluttons Bay.
On the last day, participants heard from a panel of alumni from previous YSEALI programs about the various ways in which they can leverage upon the YSEALI network and the U.S. embassies in their home countries to amplify their community efforts. Counselor for Public Affairs Camille Dawson then wrapped up the entire workshop by giving closing remarks and presenting certificates of participation to all who were involved.