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60th Workshop Meeting of Heads of NPOs [22–24 October 2019, ROC]

Statement by APO Secretary-General
Dr. AKP Mochtan

H.E Deputy Minister Mei-Hua Wang,
Respected NPO and Agriculture Delegates,
Distinguished Advisers and Guests:

It is a great privilege for me to be back in the APO family. I am truly honored to be entrusted with the confidence and mandate of the Governing Body as the 12th Secretary-General of the APO. We have had wise, perceptive Secretaries-General over the years who enabled our organization to grow tremendously since its founding in 1961. I sincerely hope that I will be able to continue the legacies of my predecessors and elevate the APO to a higher plane during my tenure, which will include the commemoration of its 60th anniversary two years from now. 

The key to this endeavor is the support of member countries. This does not take the form of membership contributions alone. The most important forms of support are sharing ideas, expertise, and insights; planning and developing programs for the benefit of all; and reinforcing networks and friendships, which are all seen here at the WSM today. For this reason, the annual Workshop Meeting of Heads of NPOs and Agriculture delegates has always had special importance to the Secretariat, including to me personally.

I first attended a WSM 21 years ago in 1998, when I joined the APO Secretariat as an Information and Public Relations Officer. I still remember vividly how hectic it seemed, with multitasking by taking photos for documentation, summarizing discussions into a draft report, and undertaking a host of other duties typical for Secretariat staff. As tough as it was, the reward was huge: the WSM taught me the core values of the APO, which are the spirit of oneness and mutual respect. They have glued us closely together over the decades and enabled us to mark many proud milestones along our journey. As the new Secretary-General, I will do my best to promote these values by emphasizing consultation, communication, and coordination (the 3Cs) as the Secretariat’s key priorities in engagement with all members. 

Let me now turn to the main business of the WSM, which is program planning and preparations, covering proposed project titles, objectives, and scopes, as well as hosting and implementation arrangements. The processes for proposed programs for 2020, as well as indicative ones for 2021 and 2022, started after the previous WSM held in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. The Secretariat will present fine-tuning and suggested additions to those lineups during subsequent sessions. At this juncture, I would like to share new emphases the Secretariat wishes to add to give more value and distinction to APO programs and activities. 

The first emphasis is on the “centrality of productivity.” This means placing productivity at center stage, ensuring that higher productivity, as the main purpose of the APO, receives top priority in national development agendas. This can be described as putting productivity in the driver’s seat, recognizing it as the core strength propelling a country’s growth. Many interrelated terms can be used to refer to productivity, such as competitiveness or future-readiness. However, we must be clear about productivity’s place as the central imperative. All the other terms and concepts derive from the centrality of productivity – they are born out and driven by productivity. In other words, we must make productivity stand out and convince all stakeholders of the need to redouble the promotion of productivity as a confirmation and commitment to its centrality.

I should emphasize that the centrality of productivity will entail several important adjustments. This will include reorientation of the APO programs from project-based to policy-oriented activities. It is not enough for the outcomes of APO activities to be shared only among our peers. Productivity initiatives must have recognition and approval from the highest levels. The APO and NPOs must create direct links and forums to connect with chief policymakers, including senior officials and ministers in appropriate sectors. This means that we may need to revisit our standing and preparedness, recalibrating current relationships where necessary.

Another emphasis the Secretariat wishes to add is making productivity more inclusive. Our programs and activities involve the four pillars of the industry, service, agriculture, and public sectors. The APO programs have benefited a wide spectrum of recipients under these four pillars. To ensure that the APO does not leave anyone behind, the Secretariat proposes expanding our beneficiaries to include those with differing abilities, often referred to as persons with disabilities (PWD). I believe that the introduction of productivity tools, techniques, and methodology tailored to the PWD group would make a difference. This initiative would also help demonstrate the all-inclusiveness of productivity.

The Secretariat also hopes to make the linkages and contributions of productivity to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more explicit. Goals 2, 8, 9, and 12 are directly relevant to the APO, and we should put more efforts into these areas. This will enable NPOs to help their countries achieve the SDGs. Clear linkages to the SDGs will also expand opportunities for the APO to collaborate with other international organizations in addressing common global concerns. Connecting goals and pooling strengths will help us reposition the APO in the global community.   

The fine-tuned 2020 programs and preliminary project lineups for 2021 and 2022 proposed by the Secretariat are guided by these new emphases. For clarification, these modifications are not meant to replace initiatives introduced earlier, but in fact to expand and accentuate our strengths. Strengthening NPOs, for instance, remains a flagship program of utmost importance. The Secretariat is reviewing the existing mechanisms for the development of NPOs, refining the TES, BCBN, Demonstration Company, COE, National Master Plan, and Certification programs into more robust, integrated tools for boosting the capabilities of NPOs.

In this context, one of our immediate challenges is to make APO programs attractive to and useful for advanced NPOs. After almost six decades in existence, we need to ask whether our modus operandi is still effective for members that are already economically and industrially among the world’s most advanced. What does the APO have to offer to boost the productivity of its highly industrialized members? Along this line, we need to take a critical look at the roles and contributions of productivity in narrowing development gaps among our members. According to 2018 data, the difference between the APO’s largest and smallest economies is about 1,000-fold, while the difference between the highest and lowest GDP per capita is about 70-fold. It is time to review our approaches and create customized programs to address the diverse needs of members.

At this WSM, it is particularly critical to confirm the hosting of projects and activities for 2020. This applies to both the original projects in the previous lineup and the new ones the Secretariat will present during the next session. Beyond 2020, we need to start considering ideas for the 60th anniversary commemorative events. The APO’s diamond jubilee in 2021 will be a unique opportunity to showcase the continued relevance of productivity for the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

In addition to the upcoming 60th anniversary milestone, the Secretariat is working with Chair of the Committee for commencement of discussion relating to development of the APO Vision 2025. As directed by the Governing Body, the Committee is tasked to prepare draft of the vision which will be another important platform for us to direct and move the organization in the years ahead.

Another encouraging news that the Secretariat received recently is on Turkey that reported it has now completed its internal procedures to become our newest member. Moreover, distinguished guests from non-APO member countries are attending this WSM as observers. All these represent opportunities for us to communicate the centrality of productivity to an even wider audience. I look forward to substantive discussions in both the plenary and breakaway sessions in the coming two days and to your support and cooperation in the effective implementation of 2020 projects and timely preparations for 2021. Let me reiterate that the key success factor is the support of all members. As the saying goes, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

I would like to close by conveying sincere appreciation to our hosts, the Government of the ROC and the China Productivity Center (CPC), for their generosity in holding this year’s WSM in the dynamic, gracious city of Taipei. We are honored that the Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, H.E. Mei-Hua Wang, is gracing this occasion to deliver the keynote address. I would like to express particular thanks to the APO Director, Alternate Director, NPO Head, and the rest of the CPC team for making impeccable arrangements and their warm hospitality extended to all delegates.

I hope that all delegates experience another successful, memorable WSM.

Thank you.

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