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Statement by APO Secretary-General
by Ryuichiro Yamazaki
I would like to thank the Government of Indonesia for its generosity in hosting this year’s Workshop Meeting of Heads of NPOs (WSM) in Bali. We are greatly honored by the presence of H.E. Muhaimin Iskandar, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Republic of Indonesia, who delivered the inaugural address. We would also like to thank Governor of Bali Province I. Made Mangku Pastika for his welcome remarks. On behalf of the delegates, I would also like to express our deepest appreciation to APO Director for Indonesia Abdul Wahab Bankona and his staff for their dedication and hard work in making this meeting possible.
This is going to be an interesting WSM. In addition to the usual agenda of reconfirming the lineup of APO projects for 2013 as well as the preliminary lineup for 2014, the Governing Body Meeting (GBM) that took place in April 2012 assigned a special task to this distinguished gathering of Heads of NPOs and Agriculture delegates, which I will elaborate on later.
2012 GBM Updates
First, I would like to update you on key outcomes of the last GBM. As mentioned at the 2011 WSM, the Secretariat was looking for new office premises outside Tokyo to reduce the cost of rent. At the 2012 GBM, it was further decided that the APO headquarters should remain in Tokyo and that the rental of the office would continue to be borne by the Government of Japan (GoJ) as part of its obligations as the host country of the APO. I would like to thank the GoJ for its leadership in resolving this matter as well as the local Japanese governments and the Government of Malaysia, which generously offered alternative solutions to the GBM.
After much work to identify candidate properties within the budget specified by the GoJ, the Secretariat has managed to find an alternative office space located within 4 km of the current premises. With the approval of the GBM, preparations are currently underway to move the Secretariat to the new office toward the end of November during a national three-day holiday weekend. Full operations are expected to resume from the first week of December. More details on the move will be provided to member countries in due course.
2013/2014 Budget and Membership Contribution Formula
As for the membership contribution formula, while the last GBM approved the total 2013–2014 budget, it did not reach a consensus on the apportionment of the membership contributions. As a result, the Task Force on the membership contribution formula chaired by APO Chair and APO Director for Malaysia Azman Hashim continued its work to resolve this issue. A second Task Force meeting that took place on 2 July 2012 narrowed down the options for a formula to decide the membership apportionment, which was sent to member governments to seek their feedback. We hope that a consensus can be reached by members on the apportionment amount for the next biennium at the earliest possible date to facilitate each member’s process of obtaining the necessary approval from its government for the disbursement of its membership contribution.
Suggestions from APO Directors during the GBM
As mentioned earlier, the GBM assigned a special task to this WSM. APO Directors made many excellent suggestions during the GBM on expanding activities and membership. The GBM decided that these suggestions should be compiled by the Secretariat so that the WSM could discuss and prioritize them. In addition, the GBM also asked the WSM to develop appropriate follow-up action plans.
The Secretariat circulated a reference paper containing the compiled suggestions to WSM delegates early last month. As there were overlapping suggestions from APO Directors, the Secretariat was able to consolidate them into nine main ones. Furthermore, recognizing that there may be insufficient time during the WSM, the Secretariat proposed specific action plans for consideration. Some of these action plans will include new project proposals that may be funded by surpluses from 2011, in line with the directive of the GBM. I have full confidence that delegates at tomorrow morning’s combined Strategic Planning Session will be able to prioritize the suggestions and recommend a set of action plans for the Governing Body to approve.
In addition to the suggestions made to expand activities and membership, Directors also made suggestions to improve the operations of the APO. These included leveraging information technology to improve overall efficiency and productivity; being even more cost-conscious; strengthening the research, capacity-building, and think-tank roles of the Secretariat; retaining talented Secretariat staff; and monitoring the impact of APO programs.
I have taken note of these suggestions, and the Secretariat is in the midst of reviewing our organizational structure to meet new challenges. To strengthen our capacity, the Secretariat will be hiring professional staff to fill three vacant posts for which recruitment had been on hold due to the office relocation issue. I will also channel more resources into the staff training and development program to enhance the Secretariat’s human resources capabilities. One of my primary objectives as the Secretary-General is to ensure that the Secretariat remains cost-effective. Thus, the current set of cost-cutting measures is still in place. The Secretariat is continuing efforts to minimize costs in every aspect of our operations.
In addition, we will also take continuing steps to improve our information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure to serve members better as well as to achieve higher staff productivity. One business continuity management measure implemented two months ago was to protect the APO’s information and data assets by moving the computer servers into a highly secure and professionally managed data center located in Yokohama, about 30 km southwest of central Tokyo. This will not only help the APO recover quickly and maintain our critical business processes in the event of a disaster but also allow Secretariat staff to be more mobile while remaining fully connected. Other initiatives in the pipeline using ICT to improve the productivity of the APO will be implemented in consultation with member countries starting from 2013.
Reconfirmation of Projects for 2013 and Preliminary Lineup for 2014
The primary task of this WSM is to reconfirm the projects for 2013 and the preliminary lineup for 2014. Last year was the first time that the projects were presented as a two-year plan under the three new broad strategic directions. To improve the strategic planning process, we plan to introduce a pre-WSM meeting involving all APO Liaison Officers at the start of every biennial planning cycle. This will be an essential component of the Liaison Officers’ meeting scheduled for the middle of 2013, which is the beginning of the planning cycle for the 2015/2016 biennium.
As announced at last year’s WSM, we will be developing a new center of excellence (COE) next year. The APO COE for Business Excellence (BE) hosted by Singapore has been an instrumental program in helping to build up BE capabilities in NPOs. The COE for BE has produced notable achievements including publishing BE manuals that can be used to conduct training and dispatching BE experts to help NPOs develop BE programs. The COE remains a key APO program and an excellent approach to propagate critical productivity-enhancing capabilities to other NPOs. We have received proposals from several NPOs and we will discuss the directions for a new COE later. We also need to review the overall framework of the COE based on our experience with the first one to ensure that continuous improvements are made.
The APO Productivity Databook, which has been published for the last five years in conjunction with the APO Database project, is a major undertaking for the Secretariat. In next year’s edition, we will be focusing on expanding the number of economies to be covered by total factor productivity growth analysis. In the 2012 edition, we added India and the Islamic Republic of Iran to bring the total to 14 economies. We will also deepen the analysis of the industry origins of economic growth and labor productivity. To improve the relevance of the contents and utility of the databook, we will conduct a survey among member countries and other users. We will be seeking feedback from NPOs and look forward to your cooperation and support in this.
The role of public-sector organizations has been recognized as key to the development and competitiveness of a country. Thus, time-tested private-sector productivity and quality concepts, approaches, tools, and techniques have been introduced into APO public-sector projects. Thanks to the intensive discussions arising from those projects, a draft Public-sector Productivity Program Framework has been developed to guide member countries in streamlining their activities and adopting a coordinated approach to promote innovation and productivity in this sector. Its details will be explained by the Secretariat later.
Material flow cost accounting (MFCA) is an environmental management tool that promotes the efficient use of materials, contributing to reductions in waste, emissions, and other products. As MCFA is in line with the Green Productivity (GP) concept, it was first introduced in 2010 with a demonstration project. This was followed by a multicountry project as well as basic and advanced training courses. To propagate MFCA, a course to train MFCA trainers as well as a conference on the topic are scheduled to be implemented in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
On a GP-related theme, I would like to report that preparations for the 8th EPIF scheduled for 14–16 March 2013 in Singapore began early this year. This year’s postponement of the project allowed a thorough review to be conducted by the APO with the Green Productivity Advisory Committee. The result is that the 8th EPIF has become more host country driven and is expected to yield another milestone outcome similar to the last EPIF held in Singapore in 2006 which inspired the well-known eco-city project.
While the EPIF 2013 is aiming to strengthen its international outreach, another GP platform project, the Eco-products Database and the 8th edition of the Eco-products Directory, was launched successfully this May. Through this project, the necessity for capacity building in Type I eco-labeling was identified, and a joint training program with the UNEP was implemented as one element. Like the EPIF, the Eco-products Database will be reviewed later this year to ensure that its directions are in line with the demands and needs of member countries.
With regard to Category C projects, I would like to mention the Individual Observational Study Mission (I-OSM) Program, which has been in high demand in recent years. This program allows a member country to send a mission to another member country to study firsthand a specific area of interest in productivity. In 2011, five I-OSM projects out of 13 requests were organized, and in 2012 it is expected that nine out of 20 requests for I-OSMs will be met. In order to accommodate the increased demand from member countries for this program, the budget for 2012 has been increased and the same amount will also be made available for 2013. The I-OSM Program requires the close cooperation of the host country to succeed and embodies the spirit of mutual cooperation on which the APO is based. I would like to express my deep appreciation for members who have hosted I-OSMs and look forward to their continued support.
In agriculture, we will continue our program focusing on food safety management because of the growing needs of enterprises in the food industry to build their capacities and to support food security issues. With a financial grant from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, we supported four food company demonstration projects in Lao PDR and we will be supporting three similar projects in Cambodia. In line with efforts to help resolve challenges faced by member countries resulting from climate change, we have been cooperating with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in implementing projects to promote climate adaptation technologies and practices in agriculture. The global weather aberrations that we have been witnessing coupled with declining arable land for agriculture and the shortage of farm workers will increasingly require member countries to improve their productivity to meet food supply requirements.
We will also continue our program on community-based rural enterprise development. National efforts to improve productivity and income in rural communities need to be intensified, as recent ADB studies highlighted rising income inequalities in Asia despite the remarkable economic growth achieved in the region as a whole in recent years.
At this point, I would like emphasize the importance of project follow-up. I often mention to APO project participants that the completion of the project is not the end but just the beginning. The importance of visible outputs has been emphasized not only by me but also by APO Directors. The APO wants to ensure that participants utilize as much as possible of the knowledge and skills acquired from the APO projects at their workplaces. Our program officers consistently request progress reports between three to six months after the completion of projects. Lately, however, the response rate from participants has declined. We therefore request the active support of NPOs and APO Liaison Officers to coordinate with APO Secretariat program officers and encourage their participants to respond.
The Secretariat is proposing to implement 54 multicountry projects in 2013, an increase of two projects over that presented in the 2013 plan at this year’s GBM. The increase was made possible by utilizing savings resulting from cost-cutting measures in 2011. We will review this number again after the WSM finalizes its recommendations on the priority areas suggested by APO Directors as the resulting action plans will have a bearing on the final budget. The number of multicountry projects for 2014 remains unchanged at 54. The Secretariat has also maintained the US dollar to Japanese yen exchange rate at one US dollar to 75 yen but may revise this figure at the end of this year depending on the outlook. Delegates are requested to review and reconfirm the revised 2013 Program Plan and the Preliminary Program Plan for 2014 as listed in Document Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
I look forward to your feedback on our programs and our discussions in the next three days. In closing, I would once again like to thank the Government of Indonesia for graciously hosting the 53rd session of the WSM and hope that all the delegates, advisers, and observers could take some time out from their busy schedule to relax on this fabulous island of Bali.
Thank you very much.