Under the “APEC Blue” sky, I have had the privilege of participating in the APEC Voices of the Future program from November 5th to November 11th. In this report, I would like to reflect upon the thought-provoking week spent with my fellow “Voices” at the center of Beijing.
First, the main event of the Voices of the Future was the participation to the 2014 APEC CEO Summit. It was a great honor to be part of a lively discussion among distinguished panelists and renowned CEOs from the APEC economies, and was an academically stimulating experience for a student of international political economy as the themes for discussion ranged from the stability of current global economy, prospects for future cooperation among APEC economies, how to secure the future of global finance, etc. The recurring usage of the word “innovation” on the one hand symbolized the impasse the global economy is facing, while on the other hand emphasizing the potential and hope for innovative private companies in cooperation with governments to overcome such an impasse.
Second, among the head of states and CEOs that stood on the stage during the summit, President Putin had left the strongest impression on me, because of his confidence and proximity to the audience. Contrary to President Obama and Xi Jinping who left the podium just as they had finished reading the scripts of their speech, Putin opened the floor to take questions for twenty to thirty minutes. He had clear-cut answers to all the questions asked with solid confidence. Whatever time restrictions Obama and Xi might have had, at least for me and possibly for many other audiences present on that day, Putin appeared to have the attributes of a strong leader, especially when taking into account the fact that for Russia, APEC was held during an extremely sensitive period with the Ukraine incident.
Thirdly, apart from the events in the APEC CEO Summit, APEC Voices of the Future 2014 Youth Forum was thought provoking. The Forum was an opportune time for the “Voices” delegates to exchange ideas for cooperation on the theme of “Education and Employment.” Ambitious but achievable goals such as the establishment of APEC student travel card (The student version of the APEC Business Travel Card), APEC Student Mobility Program (APEC version of the CAMPUS Asia Program) and a joint incubator by APEC countries for entrepreneurial businesses gained support among many of the participants. This illustrates how much the participants shared in what they recognized as problems, and how cooperation on the aforementioned areas are strongly called for. At the same time, however, there were participants who advocated the need to prioritize poverty eradication policies, unsupportive of the emphasis on education and employment. Through this, I had come to realize the difficulty of establishing cooperation mechanisms among APEC economies that entail a diverse group of economies with uneven level of developments.
There are various mechanisms for economic cooperation in the world today, and it goes without saying that knowing about APEC alone will not suffice to draw the blueprint of future economic cooperation of the Asian Pacific economies. However, through the Voices of the Future program, I was blessed with the opportunity to have a first-hand understanding of the possibilities and limitations of APEC as an economic framework, allowing myself to evaluate its standings in the entire global economy.
I sincerely hope that this program will develop as a platform for students of APEC economies to exchange views on the future of APEC.
[APEC Voices of the Future]
1. A short Summary of the GPPN Student Conference, such as dates, number of student participation, participation schools, and Student Conference program outline
The Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) Student Conference was held on December 7 and 8, 2013. GraSPP is part of the GPPN partnership between: Columbia University, FGV-EAESP, Hertie School of Governance, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Institute of Public Affairs at LSE and Sciences Po, Paris. The GPPN Student Conference this year explored “Public Policy for 2020: Medium-Term Agenda for a Better Vision”. A total of 72 students and many more gathered to address and identify the ideal policy instruments necessary to solve the following sub-themes:
1. How do we balance national interests with economic integration?
2. How to formulate policy for international security and peaceful resolution of international conflicts
3.What are the roles and responsibilities of public institutions in times of crisis?
Throughout the program, both the faculty and the participants had the opportunity to envisage potential challenges and pitfalls of policy implements that may appear by the year 2020. The first day of the conference started with the impassioned keynote address by Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda (Governor of the Bank of Japan) on the topic of “Public Policy Research and Monetary Policy Conduct”, followed by the Deans’ Roundtable and the Practitioners’ Roundtable. The deans stressed the actions and challenges that need to be taken into consideration today to achieve the visions we have for 2020. The keynote speech as well as the roundtables provoked lively discussion with questions raised many by the students.
On the second day, enthusiastic atmosphere filled the air at the conference as ideas and opinions flew back and forth during Students’ Policy Challenge and Student Presentations. Students’ Policy Challenge consisted of impromptu presentations whereby students were divided into groups to challenge each other and come up with the most feasible policy for crisis management— specifically in the case of Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. This was a great chance for students to reflect on the notions that were mentioned by several of the practitioners on the first day.
2. Introductions and Report of Admin Division
The Administration Division of the GPPN Student Conference 2013 Organizing Committee was responsible for recruiting committee members and general management before and during the Conference. The division made sure that all divisions function smoothly.
3. Personal reflection on GPPN Student Conference
The organizing committee started from scratch during the summer of 2013. It was the first time for GraSPP to host a big-scale student conference, and prior to the conference, truth be told, I was anxious of how it will turn out to be. As the conference day has arrived, my worries proved to be wrong.
It was energizing even as a committee member to witness public policy students, professors, and practitioners coming together to share and exchange knowledge, experiences and insight. Although we had very limited time, spending two days with people in the same field was truly an inspiration to be passionate about what you are studying. I was able to reflect and think about the necessity of bringing policy research and practice into conversation. A highlight aside from the conference was the friendships with the committee members and the participants I have created during and after the conference. I sincerely hope participants from other schools enjoyed their stay here in Tokyo.
Taken as a whole, I believe that the GPPN Student Conference was fruitful for the participants as well as the committee members. It was a privilege for me to work with members from Academics, Communications, Logistics and Public Relations divisions who all contributed greatly to the conference despite our tight academic schedule. In addition, the professors and the staffs at GraSPP International Affairs Office have given us so much support throughout the preparation. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all who have helped and contributed to realizing the GPPN Student Conference at the University of Tokyo.
The Global Public Policy Network(GPPN) Student Conference 2013, hosted by Graduate School of Public Policy(GraSPP), was successfully concluded on 6-8 December 2013 at the University of Tokyo’s Hongo Campus.
This year, GraSPP gathered 155 faculty members and students from the GPPN partner schools in Tokyo to discuss the theme of “Public Policy for 2020:Medium-Term Agenda for a better vision”. Conference participants had the chance to discuss various policy issues with distinguished speakers through the Deans’ Roundtable and Practitioners’ Roundtable. Participants also presented their own creative policy ideas in the Student Presentations and Student Policy Challenge.
The conference was an excellent opportunity for motivated public policy students from all around the globe to brainstorm ideas for real life problems. Not only was it an educational experience, participants also had the opportunity to network with the faculty members of the participating schools, invited speakers, professors and among future leaders like themselves.
As Academic Division Leader, I was honored to be able to lead such a fantastic team in the successful organization of the inaugural GPPN Student Conference in Tokyo. Without much knowledge of the conference, there were huge expectations on my team as we were expected to manage the conference applications and the organization of the conference itself. We ventured into unchartered waters with the conviction to provide the best conference experience for our participants. Since the start of September 2013, the academic division started our regular meetings to prepare for the conference.
As this conference was unprecedented in Tokyo and largely a student initiative, we had trouble contacting distinguished external speakers to give keynote speeches at the conference. However, the never-say-die attitude and constant encouragement within the team pushed us through the difficult times when organizing the conference.
All the hard work and effort put into organizing the conference was worth it when we heard compliments and positive reviews about the conference. All of this would not have been possible if not for the kind support of the participating Professors, Practitioners, Conference Participants, International Affairs Office, GraSPP office and the entire GPPN Organizing Committee. I would like to make use of this opportunity once again to convey my heartfelt thanks for their undying support of the GPPN Student Conference 2013 Tokyo.