SINGAPORE: ASEAN leaders meet in Hanoi this week for their mid-year summit under new chair Vietnam.
The leaders will take stock of the 10-member grouping's economic integration process and discuss how to ensure economic recovery stay on track.
They are also expected to issue a statement on "Sustainability of Regional Economic Recovery".
2009 was a challenging year for ASEAN as the grouping battled the economic downturn and stayed relevant amidst internal problems faced by the last chair, Thailand.
Observers said it is now time for the grouping to consolidate and focus on the tasks ahead.
Professor Simon Tay, chairman of Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said: ".....the growth rates in India and China are still much higher than in ASEAN and ASEAN would need to raise its game, otherwise its relevance in the future is really in question."
ASEAN leaders are also expected to take stock of the member countries' efforts to tackle the global challenge of climate change. They are expected to issue a joint response on how ASEAN intends to address this issue.
ASEAN will also emphasise its resolve to deal with climate change and expects the global community to do the same.
Professor Tay said: "In terms of Indonesia, particularly, the deforestation and land use changes would make its climate-change emissions one of the highest in the world.
"As for the ASEAN economies, the Asian Development Bank report showed that all of them would be impacted, (and) not just Singapore, (it being) a low-lying island.
"It is important for ASEAN to stand up and say to the world that we as a group of countries expect the global community to move ahead. We want a good outcome, we are not afraid of dealing with climate change. In fact, we are more concerned if climate change is not addressed by the global community including ASEAN."
ASEAN leaders will also be briefed on the progress on enhancing the group's inter-connectivity through the different modes of transportation.