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Driving Inclusive Growth in the ASEAN Grassroots Economy

By Tim Blog Amartha - 2 May 2024 - 3 min membaca

In Southeast Asia, the promotion of inclusive growth in the grassroots economy has become one of the focuses in the economic sector. As the ASEAN nations' economies continue to navigate complex development, it is crucial to ensure that growth reaches every society.

Therefore, ASEAN nations have declared a commitment to address poverty and foster rural development. The aim is simple, which is to create an inclusive community where economic growth uplifts the overall well-being of its people.

Driving Inclusive Growth by Addressing Poverty & Rural Development in ASEAN

In Southeast Asia, ASEAN countries are working together to fight poverty and foster rural development. Since the late 1990s, ASEAN member states have collaborated under various frameworks and initiatives to address the persistent challenges of poverty and inequality.

Through strategic planning, community-based approaches, and a focus on gender equality, the ASEAN nations endeavor to drive transformative change, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of sustainable development.

Overall, here are the brief history and details about ASEAN's efforts in driving inclusive economic growth, especially at the grassroots:


ASEAN's efforts to combat poverty and promote rural development date back to 23rd October 1997, with the adoption of the Ministerial Understanding on ASEAN Cooperation in Rural Development & Poverty Eradication.

This cooperation is built on the ASEAN Charter's objective to alleviate poverty and narrow development gaps. It also has been further guided by the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the ASCC Blueprint 2025.

Strategic Planning

As a commitment to alleviate poverty, the ASEAN Ministers’ Meeting on Rural Development & Poverty Eradication (AMRDPE) is held, supported by the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Rural Development & Poverty Eradication (SOMRDPE).

Until now, the AMRDPE meetings have served as platforms to review policies and programs aimed at improving the economic and social conditions of rural populations.

Furthermore, to recognize the importance of grassroots participation, ASEAN emphasizes community-based approaches in poverty alleviation efforts.

The agreement reached during the 13th AMRDPE to strengthen such approaches reflects a commitment to inclusive development and empowerment at the local level.

The SOMRDPE also developed and introduced the ASEAN Framework Action Plan on Rural Development & Poverty Eradication 2021-2025 as a roadmap for operationalizing ASEAN's agenda in this area.

COVID-19 Challenges

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN has intensified its efforts to protect vulnerable populations, especially in terms of economic development.

Special meetings, like the one held in August 2020, underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to address the socio-economic impact of the crisis. Initiatives to strengthen rural livelihoods and ensure inclusive recovery have been prioritized.

5 Key Result Areas

The key result areas represent the main focus areas for achieving inclusive growth in the ASEAN grassroots economy. Here are the details of each  area and its strategic objectives:

  • Economic: Accelerate/fast-track the transformation of rural areas to create more opportunities for people to join in economic activities.
  • Human: Guarantee access to education, social services, and healthcare to improve well-being and promote healthy living in rural communities.
  • Protective: Establish programs for disaster preparedness to deal with environmental and climate change risks, aiming for stronger and more resilient communities and households.
  • Political: Advocate for good governance and set up structured systems to enhance coordination between initiatives addressing rural development and poverty eradication.
  • Inclusivity: Implement mechanisms involving multiple stakeholders in rural development, with a focus on engaging rural women, youth, and other vulnerable groups.

The Milestones

The milestones achieved in promoting inclusive growth in the ASEAN grassroots economy are significant markers of progress and dedication toward uplifting communities across the region. Let's delve into these milestones:

1. Establishment of the ASEAN Villages Network

During Indonesia's term as ASEAN Chair in 2024, a pivotal moment occurred with the adoption of the Joint Statement on the Establishment of an ASEAN Villages Network. It was established during the 42nd ASEAN Summit held in May 2023.

2. Adoption of the ASEAN Master Plan on Rural Development

Also, the AMRDPE has adopted The ASEAN Master Plan on Rural Development as a strategic roadmap towards sustainable and equitable development.

3. Annual ASEAN Public-Private-People Partnership Forum

Organized by the SOMRDPE, this annual forum serves as a platform for learning and collaboration. By strengthening community approaches and submitting recommendations for adoption, this forum plays a crucial role in promoting inclusive economic development.

4. ASEAN Leadership Awards on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication

This award is biennially organized by the AMRDPE to recognize the efforts and contributions of various stakeholders, including civil society organizations and the private sector. It aims to inspire further action towards rural development and poverty eradication.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Regularly, the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Accelerating Actions to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) convenes under the SOMRDPE's guidance, as a part of the commitment to the promotion of inclusive growth.

Here, ministers and heads of agencies responsible for national development planning and SDGs implementation discuss collaboration towards SDG achievement and the vital roles of national development planning agencies in supporting ASEAN's endeavors.

For instance, the second ministerial dialogue was successfully held in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 31, 2023.

It was held to underscore the cross-section between different areas including poverty and climate change, and how it affects women, disabled people, the elderly, vulnerable groups, locals, children, and the young generation.

The dialogue underscored the necessity for accelerated actions at both national and ASEAN levels to tackle emerging challenges, particularly SDG Goal 1 on poverty. It also stressed the importance of enhancing regional cooperation and partnerships to ensure inclusive progress.

There are also other similar dialogues and forums such as ASEAN Forum on SDGs with National Development Planning Agencies and the ASEAN-China-UNDP Symposium on SDGs.

The Role of Promotion of Inclusive Growth in Improving People's Well-Being

Enhancing the well-being of its citizens is a paramount concern for ASEAN as it undertakes significant initiatives, including finalizing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and crafting the ASEAN Community Vision 2045.

So, it is crucial to clearly outline the regional strategy for eliminating extreme poverty over the next two decades. This strategy builds upon ASEAN's continuous collaboration in rural development and poverty eradication efforts.

As ASEAN members develop towards the future, the promotion of inclusive economic growth emerges as a catalyst for improving people's well-being, including people at the grassroots.

Apart from ASEAN leaders, individually, we also hold a pivotal role in shaping a more inclusive and sustainable future. One significant way to do so is by investing in Amartha, microfinance marketplace.

Held in Jakarta, Indonesia, The 2024 Asia Grassroots Forum hosted by Amartha, is in collaboration with SME Finance Forum, Managed by the IFC (International Finance Corporation), Accion, and Women's World Banking, stands as a collaborative beacon of change.

This transformative event marks a groundbreaking milestone as the premier annual grassroots conference in Southeast Asia. At the Forum, a diverse array of grassroots stakeholders converge, uniting voices from across backgrounds and disciplines in a singular opportunity to engage, exchange, and inspire.

Join us for the upcoming discussion on Inclusive Growth in the ASEAN Grassroots Economy, exclusively at the Asia Grassroots Forum 2024 on May 21, 2024!

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Driving Inclusive Growth in the ASEAN Grassroots Economy

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