Sydney Torrenueva: Achieving economic recovery through international cooperation
I never saw this opportunity coming. I was the last to be accepted, and I embraced it as a blessing but ultimately more of a responsibility. It was an empowering experience to have a platform where I could speak up about issues concerning our country and participate in these discussions with fellow youths. It enabled me to understand the essence of mutual understanding and respect, accepting differences, and appreciating diversity, as we worked towards one goal. Having been assigned to the International Cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic working group, I instilled these values throughout my participation in the program.
We had meaningful conversations about the different adversities and issues our countries were battling, and I realized that we all shared common problems. Some had it worse than the others. Once we realized how differently each responded and struggled in this crisis, this prompted us to listen to each member, acknowledge what everyone had to say, and then formulate sustainable solutions.
Our country needs international support and upbringing in terms of economic recovery. The pandemic caused the Philippine economy to decline to its lowest level as our GDP decreased by 9.5% since World War II and experienced the deepest contractions between ASEAN Member-States. Since our economy was more vulnerable to the pandemic outbreak, it has severely put local businesses, industries, tourism, and other related sectors on the edge. International cooperation is crucial for us to adapt successful practices of other countries, foster mutual economic benefits, and stabilize our economic setting – integral components highlighted in the Youth Declaration and important priorities the Philippines should consider. Our country needs a more effective strategy to combat the pandemic while allowing the economy to thrive with international support and security.
Overall, the experience was life-changing. I have attended prestigious virtual conferences similar to this as a youth delegate from the Philippines, but I must say that APEC Voices of the Future was an extraordinary ride, and has reinforced my commitment to bridging the gaps between humanity. As Filipino youth, we need to raise our voices now more than ever. The building blocks of social progress have been deteriorating, and it is our responsibility to contribute to its revitalization and strengthen these for the next generation. Our country needs justice and collective healing. As nation-builders, this is our moment to make a difference.