Last month RSIS hosted the second edition of the International Conference on Cohesive Societies (ICCS) with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). More than 900 academics, practitioners, religious, community and youth leaders from over 40 different countries across the world joined us in-person for the conference and another 300 participants joined us virtually.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Confident Identities, Connected Communities.’ Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference provided a much-needed platform to discuss issues pertaining to faith, identity and cohesion within Southeast Asia and beyond. It discussed how technology has been useful in bridging communities, facilitating online worship, and providing a platform for meaningful collaboration during this tumultuous period and deepened conversations regarding social cohesion that were identified in the first edition of ICCS.
Following the success of the Young Leaders Programme (YLP) in ICCS 2019, ICCS 2022 provided more opportunities for youth to actively participate in the conference. This time round they engaged in both the main conference sessions and specially curated YLP sessions for youths. Youths took part in a fireside chat with social media influencers who used technological platforms positively, to build social cohesion within their communities, and the larger society.
A key feature of ICCS 2022 is the launch of an inaugural regional survey by RSIS to better understand the dynamic nature of social cohesion in ASEAN. The study looked at how 1,000 thought leaders residing within the region felt about the nature of social cohesion within their communities and society. The study highlighted the key areas that helped build a sense of belonging in their respective societies. The study found that the quality of relationships played an important role in how people felt about their society. The study represents the first step to better understand cohesion in Southeast Asia.
Overall, delegates gained extensively from the sharing of experiences, best practices, and challenges. Delegates felt that the event allowed them to interact and learn from people from different backgrounds and to understand new ways to build cohesion in their societies. The conference positioned Singapore as a meaningful space to discuss significant issues relating to faith, identity and cohesion.