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63rd APO Governing Body Meeting [8–9 June 2021, Japan]

Welcome Remarks by the APO Secretary-General

Excellencies, APO Directors, and Distinguished Delegates:

Greetings from Tokyo, and a warm welcome to the sixty third Session of the APO Governing Body.

This is the second time we conduct the GBM virtually.  The first one last year was supposed to be an extraordinary exception to the time-honored tradition of gathering in person throughout the history of the APO.

Our meeting today demonstrates how quickly an exception can become a routine.  In a way, this is symbolic of our quest for productivity improvement in the region.  It was seen as a novel, laudable attempt when the APO founders started the journey 60 years ago.

However, is the same level of excitement felt today? Specifically, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing and causing widespread humanitarian crises, how can productivity continue receiving priority attention?

At last year’s GBM, I quoted Charles Darwin who said, “It is not the strongest who survives, but the most adaptable.” Later in the year at the WSM, I stated that the key attribute that would help us to survive was “tenacity.”

I remain firmly convinced of the imperative of both adaptability and tenacity, and they are guiding the Secretariat toward transformation.

Driven by the need to adapt, we are building new strengths by enhancing in-house digital capability.

Our programs, information dissemination, and operations are shifting to the online modality.  More changes and progress are expected when the strategic digital capability initiative takes effect in the next few months.

Adaptability also means rejuvenating the Secretariat.  A strategic human capital plan is being drafted to guide the development of the Secretariat in the years ahead. This strategic plan is expected to make the Secretariat more agile and productive, with people with the right expertise, experience, and outlook.

Adaptability also means renewal and reviewing our practices, ensuring their relevance for the benefits of member countries.

Review committees and task forces were formed to re-examine Participating Country Expenses, Centers of Excellence, APO Awards, and membership contribution formula.

Discussions on some of these topics are continuing, while recommendations on others are ready for consideration at this meeting.

There are still many issues to tackle in adapting and transforming ourselves as we cope with new realities and emerging challenges. All these are especially important as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the APO.

Here, I place upmost importance on consultation with member countries. I look forward to the guidance and wisdom of Directors not only as we discuss various matters in the coming two days, but in our overall activities.

I sincerely thank Vietnam for all its support and cooperation as the APO Chair during the past year and congratulate Bangladesh on assuming the role of new APO Chair as well as Cambodia and the ROC on becoming the new Vice Chairs.

I would like to close by expressing the APO’s sincere gratitude to the Government of Japan, the host of this meeting, for its leadership, generosity, and steadfast support not only to the Secretariat but to all member countries.

Thank you.

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