23rd APEC Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG) Meeting

Mexico City, Mexico, 26 June 2001
  • Speech by Ambassador Zhang Yan, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Dr. Francisco Medelline, Office Mayor of Ministry of Education of Mexico
Dr. Daniel Gonzalez, Co-Chair and Director General of Ministry of Education of Mexico
Dr. Lee Jeong Taik, Lead Shepherd of the APEC Human Resources Development WG
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am indeed honored to address all of you in the attendance of Dr. Medelline who has kindly graced today's occasion with his presence on behalf of Minister Reyes Tamez. I would like to thank Dr. Lee for giving me this precious opportunity to speak at the 23rd HRDWG meeting today and share some of my views with you.
I would also like to thank and commend our generous host for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting, which not only will allow us to work productively but also to savor the unique beauty and culture of Mexico City and the hospitality of its people. This demonstrates Mexico's commitment to further APEC objectives and provides us with a taste of things to come when Mexico takes over the chairmanship of APEC next year.
Human Resources Development has always been one of the priorities on APEC agenda. China as host has made it one of the central themes of this year. This focus was arrived at, in the acknowledgement of the dynamic environment ushered in, by the new economy and challenges as well as opportunities it brings about. Today, HRD is acquiring increasing importance as human resources and their knowledge and skill becoming a decisive factor of economic growth of any economy. Within APEC process, HRD is also regarded as a building block to reach goals of APEC and an indispensable component to achieve economic and technical cooperation, and trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
Last year in Brunei, HRD has gained further prominence. At the initiative of His Excellency President Jiang Zemin of China and His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei, the Human Capacity Building (HCB) Initiative was launched and endorsed by all APEC Economic Leaders last November. This Initiative sets out to develop a more focused and integrated approach to HCB, involving all the relevant stakeholders in APEC. The High Level Meeting on Human Capacity Building jointly hosted by China and Brunei in Beijing in last May was a complete success. It gathered all the stakeholders to hatch ideas on building human capacity among member economies in the face of the globalization and new economy.
The Beijing Initiative adopted by the meeting laid a useful foundation for enhanced HCB work in APEC based on a tripartite model of cooperation involving the government, business, training and education sectors. It provides a strategic road-map to ensure more cohesive, comprehensive and mutually complementary HCB efforts in APEC across all sectors. It is timely to do so in view of the rapidly growing economy which requires new strategies and innovative approaches in dealing with human resources development, a dynamic area in itself. I am sure HRD WG will study carefully the proposals contained in the Beijing Initiatives and come up with specific actions to follow up with relevant proposals in light of its own objectives and work program.
The forthcoming 4th APEC HRD Ministerial Meeting to be held in September in Kumamoto, Japan is another important event in the field of human resources development this year. The meeting will provide an opportunity for our Ministers in charge of HRD to identify priority areas and chart the direction of future HRD work in the new century. I understand that this WG meeting will discuss issues pertaining to the preparation of the ministerial meeting and lay down a solid foundation for its success.
As the issue of human resource building acquires increasing importance, I can foresee that there will be growing number of initiatives from and cooperative activities by member economies in the field of HRD and HCB. As the responsible forum in this field, HRDWG will have greater responsibility in implementing relevant tasking and projects as well as providing advice. Being one of the most efficient and productive working groups, I am sure, under the able leadership of Dr. Lee and with your joint efforts, you will meet the challenge and do a better job in the future.
HRD is crosscutting in nature and it flows in all directions and permeates through every priority area that has been identified by Leaders and Ministers. It is therefore essential for HRDWG to keep abreast of all developments within APEC so as to be able to develop a more comprehensive work program and also contribute to the HCB aspect of other fora's work programs. Besides, an effective coordination among various APEC fora on this issue is of vital importance in order to avoid duplication of efforts and achieve cost-effective results. In devising the Strategy on Human Capacity Building lead by the SOM Sub-Committee on Ecotech, we are happy to see that a close consultation has been conducted among the APEC fora, particularly with HRDWG. Such coordination and cooperation should be emulated, as it allows the ESC and HRDWG to build on the synergy of each other's work.
The HRDWG has a wide-ranging agenda and broad scope. It is heartening to note that HRDWG itself keeps up with the changing environment and developed quality responses in its work. Programs on skill building, lifelong education, cooperation between government, management and labor all contribute towards creating a prosperous community in APEC. The ongoing emphasis on equipping students and the workforce with updated skills and knowledge to enable them to adapt to the changing environment is crucial. With knowledge being the added value that gives a competitive edge over others, the WG has devised programs to incorporate ICT into education as well as into current workplace practices.
I must also mention that the HRDWG has also an admirable tradition of having an impressive volume of self-funded projects by member economies. Such activities demonstrate a high measure of commitment on the part of members and the willingness to share resources and experiences with each other.
I am happy to conclude that the HRDWG looks set to further its excellent work this year and beyond. I assure you that the APEC Secretariat will continue to provide our utmost support and cooperation to ensure that.
Finally, I wish you all the best in your deliberations and look forward to fruitful discussion in the next few days towards a successful conclusion of this meeting.
Thank you.