APEC economies engage in economic and technical co-operation to attain sustainable growth and equitable development in the Asia-Pacific region, to reduce economic disparities among members and to improve overall economic and social well-being.
The Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE) coordinates and manages APEC's economic and technical cooperation (ECOTECH) agenda, which is outlined in the Osaka Action Agenda. In 1996, an APEC Framework for Strengthening Economic Cooperation and Development was adopted to guide members in implementing the Osaka Action Agenda.
The objectives of the SCE are to:
- Strengthen the implementation of APEC's ECOTECH activities by prioritising work based on Leaders' and Ministers' commitments, and coordinating and providing oversight to the work of APEC fora
- Provide policy guidance on ways to contribute to APEC's ECOTECH goals
- Coordinate ECOTECH objectives and priorities between the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and Ministerial Meetings
In 2010, Senior Officials endorsed a new Framework to Guide ECOTECH activities to guide the APEC-funded capacity building and all ECOTECH activities. This framework adopted a holistic approach by:
- Revising the APEC ECOTECH priorities
- Introducing a uniform set of criteria for all project funding, where funding is based on the link between proposals and APEC’s core objectives.
Within this new framework, five areas have been identified as medium-term ECOTECH priorities:
- Regional economic integration
- Addressing the social dimensions of globalisation (inclusive growth)
- Safeguarding the quality of life through sustainable growth
- Structural reform
- Human security
The medium-term priorities will be reviewed again by 2015.
The SCE was first established as the SOM Sub-Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation (ESC) in 1998. In 2002, this was elevated to the SOM Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation. In 2005, the ESC was strengthened and transformed into the SOM Steering Committee on ECOTECH (SCE). In 2012, the SCE conducted an internal review of its working mechanisms and new Terms of Reference were endorsed.
- Current Activities
In 2012, the SCE has focused on developing and improving the way APEC works on issues that cut across the work of many APEC working groups and task forces. At the second SCE meeting (SCE2) in 2012, a new Framework to Discuss Cross-Cutting Issues was endorsed which sets out ways in which fora can work with each other on issues of mutual concern. The SCE also identified a number of current issues within APEC for which these activities would be particularly valuable, including food security, disaster management, blue economy and on advancing science and technology.
In line with the priorities outlined in the new Framework to Guide ECOTECH Activities, the SCE is focusing on encouraging improvements in the work of its fora and ensuring that the work done at all levels aligns with the broader vision and objectives of APEC and remain responsive to the directions set by APEC Leaders and Ministers.
Towards this goal, the SCE has requested that all working groups and task forces complete a strategic plan by SCE2 in 2013. Materials to assist in this process have been provided to all fora including a strategic planning checklist and process guide. The APEC TATF has provided access to a consultant to help with this process and Program Directors at the APEC Secretariat have been trained to help fora develop strategic plans.
2010 saw the introduction of a Revised Guidelines for Lead Shepherd/Chair and Deputy Lead Shepherd/Chair of APEC Working Groups and SOM Task Forces to enhance wider participation, shared leadership, and accountability; to ensure that more members embrace the role and responsibility of Lead Shepherd/Chair or Deputy Lead Shepherd/Chair; and to promote greater synergy in the activities of working groups and other APEC fora. A minor revision to the guidelines was endorsed by Senior Officials at SOM1 in 2012.
The SCE supervises the Independent Assessment of APEC fora on a four year rotating basis to identify ways to improve the operation and function of the group and to strengthen their strategic priorities and direction for future work. During 2011, the SCE supervised the independent assessments of the following APEC fora:
- Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG),
- Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG),
- Mining Task Force (MTF), and
- Fisheries Working Group (FWG) and the Marine Resources Conservation Working Group (MRCWG) (jointly)
The recommendations of each Independent Assessment were provided to the SCE and the fora for agreement on how to move forward, the outcomes were reported in the 2011 Senior Officials’ Report on Economic and Technical Cooperation. Updates on the implementation status of these recommendations were provided at SCE2 2012.
In 2012, Independent Assessments are underway for the:
- Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) and the High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) jointly
- Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group (ACT)
- Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE)
- Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL)
In 2011, APEC committed to fund 85 ECOTECH projects proposed by the SCE and other APEC working groups and task forces to progress work in APEC's priority areas and support APEC's economic and technical cooperation agenda.
These projects focused on the five medium-term ECOTECH priorities identified by the SCE.
With the new Framework to Guide ECOTECH Activities and in conjunction with the changes to APEC project management activities through the Budget and Management Committee (BMC), APEC has been able to adopt a more strategic and holistic approach to all ECOTECH activities.
It also helps APEC best utilise its resources to achieve the outcomes that are most important to members and to maximise APEC's contribution to the region.
One way this has been accomplished is by creating an Annual APEC Wide Funding Criteria for APEC projects which is used to help determine which project proposals will contribute most to the goals of APEC and receive a higher priority for APEC funding.
TAN Jian (Mr)
Councilor China APEC Senior Official
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
People’s Republic of China
Andrew O’SULLIVAN (Mr)