Building on the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap

APEC Digital DialogueAPEC officials and experts gathered in Port Moresby for a High Level Policy Dialogue on the Digital Economy. The objective of the session was to discuss how to build on the APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap adopted by APEC in 2017. Mr Eduardo Pedrosa, Secretary General of the PECC International Secretariat moderated keynote addresses from: Professor Peter Cowhey, Dean and Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Communications and Technology Policy, University of California, San Diego; Mr. Douveri Henao, Executive Director, Business Council of Papua New Guinea; and Mr. Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Australia.

The digital economy and the policies needed to facilitate its growth are coming into sharper focus, as last year’s report on the State of the Region noted “The extent to which this transformation is taking place is leading some to conclude that the digital economy is not only the future of our economy, it is the economy. Goods and services are being digitized, not only in how they are developed, but also in how they are delivered and consumed, transforming how the economy works, and how individual sectors, such as health, education, security, finance, and even governance.”

Professor Cowhey suggested that it was essential that APEC: remove barriers to integrating the region-wide digital economy; the digital economy expands based on fair & non-discriminatory terms while advancing social and economic inclusion, privacy & security; and that APEC policies adopt new approaches in response to rapidly changing technologies. He identified three critical barriers to the expansion of the benefits of the digital revolution: trade rules and regulations that are not “technology neutral” regarding the supply of cross-border goods & service; trade restrictive limitations on uses and locations of data & computing networks; and trade restrictive issues tied to cybersecurity & privacy regulations. To move forward APEC should combine both top-down and bottom-up approaches that: enhance market integration; allow for reasonable variations in domestic policies; be fair and non-discriminatory; and recognize growing role of civil society in problem solving.

Ambassador Feakin highlighted the role that digital technologies can play as enablers of sustainable development and economic growth and the role of APEC as a vehicle for identifying and fostering new sources of growth, including efforts to strengthen the integration of economic and business activities in the region. He urged APEC officials to work together to actively shape a forward work program that maximizes opportunities for economic growth through digital trade and technology for development.

Mr Douveri Henao, Executive Director of the Business Council of Papua New Guinea underscored the importance of the role that the business role can play in economic development in the digital economy era. He used the example of Papua New Guinea to explain the many developmental challenges that regional economies face that require the active participation of the business community in solving problems. He announced that the Papua New Guinea business community had initiated a “ Business4SDG Dashboard” to create a space where business’ corporate social responsibility programs can be matched with developmental needs as identified with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Led by the French Pacific Territories committee for PECC (FPTPEC), this PECC international project consists of a set of three seminars in 2017-2018. The concluding seminar will be co-organized by FPTPEC and CTPECC (Chinese Taipei committee of PECC) to explore how the concept of circular economy manifests in smart cities, and also to look at how regulatory regimes including harmonization of technical codes and standards that promote circular economy can facilitate trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The first seminar was held in September 2017 in Bozeman, Montana, USA, focusing on “Natural Resource Industries – Mining, Forestry, and Oil & Gas,” in partnership with the Mansfield Center of the University of Montana. The second seminar focused on “Sustainable and Responsible Tourism” and was hosted by the French Polynesian government in Papeete in November 2017. Enriched with case studies, the discussions held at these two seminars illustrated how the circular economy in practice can benefit communities - economically, socially, and environmentally. 

Circular economy is increasingly hailed as a revolutionary concept that urges transformative changes in mindset as well as how individuals, businesses and societies produce, consume, inter-relate, and organize. It promotes reduction of waste, reuse and recycle of raw materials, water and energy, thereby closing the loop in the make-consume-waste model (“linear economy”). The “Linear economy,” model, in contrast, relies on large quantities of cheap and easily accessible raw materials for energy. This obviously has limitations in the long run as natural resources deplete. The key aim of circular economy is to avoid or reduce waste through systemic optimization, reuse, and smart management of our resources at various stages. It promotes keeping products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value over time. By adopting “reduce, recycle, reuse” approach towards zero-waste, it promotes a sustainable and energy-efficient economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.

Businesses, civil societies and governments are promoting the concept of “circular economy” with the aim to keep products, components and materials at their highest reusable quality over time and to offer product life extension and waste reduction. Changing attitudes towards the environment as well as economic incentives have helped encourage adoption of this new model. An increasing number of enterprises are engaged in green growth and energy transition strategies, and positioning themselves at the forefront of new business trends that embrace the circular economy approach. In a region with dense populations and limited resources, now seeing exponential growth of the middle class, construction of new cities and massive infrastructure projects, and movement of goods, services, capital and people, the early adoption of the CE concept would be very advantageous.

Circular economy concepts are probably more easily observed and understood in the context of “smart city” projects that adopt cutting-edge, socially and environmentally conscious innovations. CE spurs resource-efficient competition among businesses and economies, and engenders new growth patterns that directly and indirectly affect international trade. The concluding seminar will thus analyze the impact of circular economy on international trade. The following areas will be discussed throughout the two days:

- Realization of circular economy through innovations coming to life in smart cities
- Enhancing connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region
- Industrial Revolution 4.0 and digital trade
- Harmonizing technical codes and standards to facilitate trade in sustainability and innovation
- Potential impact of CE on connectivity and trade.

(Click here for the program)

SDCE cover v05 01 Seminar2The United Nations has named 2017 the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.” More than one billion international tourists are traveling around the world each year and this number is expected to increase significantly by 2020, driven largely by China’s growing middle class as well as the cruise industry. The tourism sector for many economies is growing at exponential rates and represents substantial economic value for a many of Asia-Pacific economies.

The tourism industry has become a major source of revenue for many of the region’s economies but also has become an increasing concern regarding environmental protection. Given the growing number of visitors and the infrastructure expansion necessary to support these tourists, many of the attractive and valuable environmental/ cultural features are at risk. Over time, without proper planning and education, these tangible and intangible assets may become degraded, losing their original form, causing the tourism industry to suffer and eventually become unsustainable. Short-term gains may be realized at the expense of long-term revenue opportunities.

Sustainable tourism can help boost employment and economic growth for local communities and indigenous peoples by engaging them in various tourism activities, and in some cases, alleviate poverty. Moreover, sustainable tourism that integrates the concept of the circular economy promotes the conservation of natural resources and reduction of tourism-related carbon footprint. This can also be expanded and integrated into other sustainability programs associated with micro-industries, micro-financing, and sustainability practices for other industries that are interdependent with tourism. Sustainable tourism also promotes education and first-hand understanding for and preservation of local cultural heritage and diversity.

The seminar on sustainable and responsible tourism addressed how a vital economic activity, especially for developing economies, can grow sustainably without contributing to the environmental and cultural degradation. Participants discussed integration of circular economic factors into tourism which can contribute to increasing the economic, social, and environmental benefits.

The second seminar of the three-part series was hosted by the local government of French Polynesia. 


OPENING REMARKS: H.E. Edouard Fritch, President of French Polynesia

KEYNOTE: Pascal Lamy, Chair, FPTPEC/ former Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO)

SESSION 1: Tourism, Economic Development, and International Cooperation
• How is the concept of circular economy applied to tourism?
• Regional tourism outlook and forecasts for Asia-Pacific economies
• Tourism as a source of inclusive development
• Supply chain management in tourism industry: transport, accommodation, hospitality, tour guide, recreational activities, site conservation, etc.

SESSION 2: Tourism and Environmental Protection
• Competing land use rights impacting sustainable and responsible tourism
• Development of eco-construction and eco-buildings for tourism
• Climate change and resiliency strategies for sustainable tourism
• Management of clean transportation in coastal and recreational sites

SESSION 3: Measuring Sustainability
• What are some of the ways in which sustainability is measured in tourism and hospitality sectors?
• Standard and certifications in tourism industry
• Monitoring and evaluation over time
• Indexing methods

SESSION 4: Island Economies
• How could island economies limit or mitigate the negative effects of tourism on environmental and cultural features? 
• How do tourism and hospitality industries benefit these island economies, e.g., attract foreign direct investments, necessitate infrastructure development? 
• How do we ensure that tourism activities are compatible with the conservation of tangible and intangible cultural and ecological heritage sites?

SESSION 5: Next-Generation Tourism
• Youth and tourism
• New trends
• Luxury tourism and luxury hospitality
• Alternative forms of tourism: ecotourism, education tourism, medical tourism, volun-tourism

CLOSING REMARKS: Mdm. Nicole Bouteau, Minister of Tourism, French Polynesia

PECC SOTR 2017-2018 COVERThe State of the Region 2017-2018 report of PECC was released today on the sidelines of APEC senior official and ministerial meetings ahead of the summit. The Report is an annual statement of PECC’s views on the major developments affecting Asia-Pacific regional cooperation. It contains a macroeconomic overview of the current state of the Asia-Pacific region. as well as the results of PECC's annual survey of the region's opinion leaders. This year, the survey was conducted from 10 August to 14 September and responses were received from 722 opinion leaders. The survey panelists were selected based on their expertise and direct involvement or influence on regional policy-making, coming from government, business and civil society.

According to the PECC survey, the top 5 priorities that the APEC Leaders’ should address in Da Nang are: 

  • Promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth through the APEC Growth Strategy
  • The emergence of anti-globalization & anti-trade sentiments
  • Progress towards the Bogor Goals and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP)
  • Improving economic financial and social inclusion in the region
  • Climate change cooperation

The Report also featured a thematic chapter on the challenges and opportunities offered by the digital economy. As mentioned in Chapter 2 of the Report, “the digital economy, if successful, can promote efficiency, innovation, and inclusion.”

The impact of the digital economy on labor markets will be significant and appropriate adjustments will be needed. Routine jobs will be replaced by machines and systems, through the process of automation. According to the respondents of the PECC annual survey, some types of jobs are expected to decrease, such as clerical and assembly line work, while others such as technical and professional jobs are expected to increase. “There will inevitably be some shifts in the future labor market as certain jobs become redundant while new skills are required. Various digital tools and online platforms can help us become more inclusive in our approach to education and upskilling; this can be our chance to bring more people to benefit from easier access to knowledge and to better, higher paying jobs,” said PECC Co-chair Ambassador Tang Guoqiang. 

Increasing protectionism was seen as the top risk to growth of the Asia-Pacific region according to the PECC annual survey. Lack of political leadership and slowdown in the Chinese economy were second and third risks to growth.

“Against the backdrop of concerns over rising protectionism, arguments for regional economic integration efforts and emphasis on pathways to achieving the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and support for the multilateral trading system become even more pertinent. They provide stability, certainty, and a sense of forward momentum,” said PECC Co-chair Don Campbell.

Download the full report.

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Mansfield PECC Montana
Many PECC economies depend upon revenue from natural resource utilization. This includes a wide range of primary and secondary industries involving forestry, mining, and oil and gas development. Natural resource extraction and the value of these commodities can represent significant percentages of GDPs. However, growing concern over climate change, biodiversity, and human health impacts has resulted in an increasingly complex set of domestic and international government regulations, interventions, and analyses concerned with enforcing sustainable environmental policy.

In response to this web of rules, regulations, laws and emerging international treaties, many companies have begun investing in a range of innovative approaches to achieving sustainability objectives while growing their respective financial bottom-lines. As necessity is often the mother of invention, international leaders in forestry, mining and oil and gas industries are utilizing technological innovation, advances in data science, and practical solutions to achieve competitive positioning. These investments have at least three main features: 1) a realization it is often in the best interest of the industry to be proactive in relationship to sustainability goals; 2) developing a long-term strategic goal of optimizing profit with sustainability metrics can be financially beneficial across the entire value chain; and 3) an increasing realization by primary resource industries that the global consumer voice and buying power is playing an increasing role in commodity value-add utilization and consumption; ignoring potential brand devaluation by global, multinational consumer activism carries increasing risk.

The first seminar of 'Sustainable Development & Circular Economy' project brought together government, research, business and technology leaders who are pioneering innovative solutions to achieve economic performance within regional, national, and international sustainability policy frameworks. The group shared their ideologies, best practices, and experiences on achieving economic objectives within the context of an increasingly challenging global regulatory framework. Specifically, the participants addressed circular economic capacity in the context of their respective industries and the reality of achieving sustainability goals.

The group also explored these topics against active international conversations, negotiations, and endorsements of the 2016 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This important milestone set into motion a range of sustainability goals and objectives that impact global economic – ecological systems and the inhabitants of these interconnected systems. Seminar participants were challenged to analyze, discuss and share real-world examples of circular economic features that meet or exceed Paris Agreement goals and process improvements. 

This first seminar was organized in Bozeman, Montana (United States) jointly with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, University of Montana on September 20-23, 2017.

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