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Statement by APO Secretary-General
by Mari Amano
Distinguished NPO and Agriculture Delegates;
Advisers, Observers, and Guests:
It is a great pleasure and honor to attend this Workshop Meeting of Heads of National Productivity Organizations and Agriculture delegates.
Our thanks go to the Government of Singapore for its warm hospitality and generosity in hosting this year’s WSM. I would also like to express deep appreciation to our host NPO, SPRING Singapore, led by APO Director for Singapore Ms. Chew Mok Lee, for sparing no effort in organizing the WSM and making all the delegates feel at home.
Since there are several new delegates attending this WSM, I should mention that it is held annually to discuss training programs and other plans that strengthen the productivity movements in member countries. WSMs are attended by Heads of NPOs and delegates from the agriculture sector or their senior representatives who are engaged in directing productivity efforts and are able to commit to hosting APO projects in their countries. In addition, delegates also deliberate on productivity issues and guidelines for future programs, as well as share the economic challenges and emerging needs of their countries.
For this WSM, delegates in the separate industry and service group and agriculture group are requested to discuss and reconfirm the final lineup of projects as well as host countries for the 2016 Program Plan based on the revised budget that the last Governing Body Meeting held in Bangkok has already approved. The revised lineup for 2016 now features 86 programs and projects.
Please note that the Secretariat has proposed new projects to supplement the 2016 Program Plan. This is to meet the request of last year’s WSM to implement key elements of the proposed APO Roadmap as soon as possible. Projects include preliminary work on the policy advisory program, as well as missions and conferences to identify new agriculture-related innovations and technologies.
Delegates will also discuss the list of priority projects for the 2017–2018 biennium. Once delegates have endorsed the Program Plan, it will form the basis of the request for the new 2017–2018 budget at the next GBM. After my statement, Directors from the Secretariat will make several presentations to elaborate on this and to explain the process of preparing the 2017–2018 Biennial Program Plan. More details will be provided in the strategic planning sessions conducted by the Industry and Service Sector Committee and Agriculture Sector Committee. The rest of my statement will focus on initiatives, current and new, that are of particular importance to us.
Public-sector productivity is set to take center stage with the approval of the Governing Body to designate the Development Academy of the Philippines as the COE on Public-sector Productivity. The new COE will develop a master plan and implement activities to facilitate learning, innovation, and sharing of knowledge and best practices from the public sector on topics important to member countries. To date, we have established three COE in member countries, on Business Excellence in SPRING Singapore, Green Productivity in the China Productivity Center, and Public-sector Productivity in the DAP. These COE will continue to play a critical role in achieving the APO’s vision and mission.
The 2015 edition of the APO Productivity Databook released in September this year is the result of rigorous research by experts from member countries to ensure that we are able to compare economic performance within the APO and with other major global economies. The 2015 edition offers international comparisons of productivity data based on the most updated 2008 System of National Accounts compared with the 1993 SNA used previously. Total factor productivity has been newly computed for Cambodia, while analysis of TFP has been expanded to cover 18 APO member economies. In line with efforts to enhance Green Productivity initiatives, this edition presents energy productivity estimates to allow members to improve it as a policy target for pursuing sustainable growth in the region. The APO Productivity Databook project will continue efforts to improve, while exploring constructive ways to offer useful information for evidence-based productivity analysis as part of the policy advisory function of the APO.
I am pleased that Bangkok will be the host country for the next EPIF. It will be jointly implemented by the FTPI and Federation of Thai Industries from 8 to 11 June 2016, with the theme “24-Hour Eco-Life.” This will be the second EPIF in Thailand after hosting its first fair in 2005. The EPIF 2016 plans to offer various side events, including the educational Eco-kids, business matching, and new eco-product presentations. An international conference will be held concurrently from 8 to 10 June. I hope that all member countries will support Thailand and participate in the EPIF to generate eco-business networks.
I thank the Governments of the Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea for providing generous cash grants enabling the APO to implement new projects and assign experts to member countries.
The cash grants are particularly important for the agriculture sector, which has benefited from the five-year Special Program for Capacity Building in the Food Industry in ASEAN Least Developed Countries starting last year. This program supports individual-country activities to increase productivity in agriculture and the food industry. In addition to country-specific activities, it also finances the hosting of two multicountry projects in Japan every year such as the Multicountry Observational Study Mission on Branding Local-specific Agricultural Products through the Use of Geographical Indications organized this year. In addition, Japan also provided a new three-year grant for the Special Program for Promoting Public-private partnerships in Enhancing Food Value Chains in Asian Countries starting in 2015. Two multicountry projects under this grant will be held in Japan: a Multicountry Observational Study Mission on Cold Chain Systems for Perishable Food and Multicountry Observational Study Mission on Agricultural Innovations in Japan to Increase Productivity.
As reported at the last GBM, the APO has also received a special cash grant from Japan to build the capacity for energy conservation in Bangladesh, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Implementation is underway by completing visits to the targeted countries and developing training materials. To gain spillover effects from the program, the GBM approved an increase in the number of slots for participants in multicountry projects under the program for other member countries.
The APO continues to be active in Africa through the generosity of the Japanese government. Twenty-seven productivity professionals and government officials from eight African countries attended the Training Course on Industrial Human Resources Development for Africa held in South Africa from 15 to 26 June 2015. We plan to continue follow-up activities in Africa.
Also on the international front, the APO has been accelerating global partnerships with major international organizations, research institutions, and universities. I am pleased to report that we will be collaborating with the Development Centre of the OECD on the publication of a productivity outlook report, which will analyze productivity growth trends in APO economies and related policies. Publication is planned for mid-2016. We also assisted the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in its productivity measurement work for the Bhutanese government. The APO and UNDESA are currently discussing a possible joint workshop on productivity data and their use for policy formulation.
Secretariat staff play an important role in our international cooperation activities. In 2015, they traveled to various events to share the APO’s unique knowledge, experience, and expertise. At the UNESCAP meeting in Cambodia to discuss strategies for the sustainable development of LDCs, we shared initiatives in supporting our own LDC members in their productivity enhancement efforts. Our staff also spoke on innovation and productivity in the organic farming sector at a regional conference on marketing and innovation strategies held in the Republic of Korea. At the annual UNCRD forum on 3R solutions held in Maldives, a Secretariat officer gave a presentation and moderated discussions on the concept of Green Productivity and contributions to the region’s efforts in 3R initiatives.
We are also committed to maintaining close relations with various agencies in Japan. In 2015, some of the activities conducted in Japan were taking part as a lecturer in an internship program on global leadership practices held by the JPC, conducting a lecture on APO activities in Green Productivity and green business at the Yokohama National University, and participating in the International Forum for Sustainable Asia and the Pacific.
Our e-learning program was first launched in 2006. Since then, the convergence of technology, social media, and content has presented the perfect opportunity to relaunch the APO’s whole suite of e-learning courses. Later, the Director of the Agriculture Department will present a reference paper on the proposed expansion of the Digital Learning Program. Early this year, we embarked on an exciting journey with member countries to improve that program. The first major part, which was to conduct videoconference-based courses using the APO’s new in-house facilities, has proven to be a huge success.
The highly sought after self-learning e-courses will also be revolutionized. The next phase will be to create high-impact, interactive self-learning e-courses that encourage learning anywhere, anytime, and with any digital device. I am pleased that we have finally put together the capability to offer a vastly improved learning experience for member countries. Your support and advice will help transform the Digital Learning Program into a world-class platform for e-learning on par with that offered by institutions of higher learning around the world. When we received Colombian visitors in August, they specifically wanted to collaborate with the APO to translate existing e-courses into Spanish. This is a testament to the wide global audience reached by self-learning e-courses. Likewise, I also encourage you to leverage self-learning by translating courses into local languages to increase the APO’s reach in your countries.
The APO has always strived to serve member countries by offering great programs funded from membership contributions and special cash grants, made even better through partnerships with other organizations working to advance the productivity mission. At this WSM, I look forward to lively discussions that will help improve our programs for member countries. Despite the work that must be accomplished, I hope that you will also spare some time to soak up the amazing atmosphere of our host country, a modern metropolis set in a tropical garden, and sample the exceptional international cuisine infused with the flavors of the cultures of Singapore. Finally, I am pleased to inform you that the next WSM will be held in Malaysia, hosted by the Malaysia Productivity Corporation.