VIENTIANE, May 15 (Xinhua) -- Climate change, natural disasters,  pollution, poverty and epidemics are among the risks to efforts to improve livelihoods of lowest wage earners and their households across Southeast Asia in the next decade, ministers said on Sunday.

Ministers of labor from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were joined by representatives of China, Japan and South Korea for meetings set to endorse the Vientiane Declaration on "Transition from Informal Employment to Formal Employment towards Decent Work Promotion in ASEAN."

In his opening speech, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone said sustainable growth and employment, labour productivity and justice needed to be achieved for the region's workforce via life-long learning, skills development and through public private partnerships.

Citing ASEAN's people-centered approach, Sonexay called for renewed efforts to improve human resource development to address skill shortfalls in the region's labor markets and better regional coordination to promote and protect workers' rights, encompassing migrant workers, particularly women and those engaged in hazardous environments.

"Millions of children cannot fully access primary education, less progress of social protection, justice, human rights, harassment to women and children and child labor have to be taken into consideration," Sonexay said.

The meetings come at a time of increasing regional socio-economic integration toward free flows of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labor following the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015.