Conclusion of the 5th R&D Leaders' Forum

Christchurch, New Zealand, 11 March 2004
  • Speech by Ambassador Mario Artaza, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
Hon. Pete Hodgson
Heads of Delegations,
Dr. Mallett
Professor Alan MacDiarmid,
R & D leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to be providing the closing remarks for what has been a very successful Research and Development Leaders' Forum.
This is a significant event in the APEC Calendar and an important contributor to the achievements of the 2004 APEC year.
This forum raised a number of issues and discussed concepts that are of great importance to the science and technology sector in our region. The excellent document that was distributed earlier summarizes the main points emerging from this forum so I don't need to expand on them further.
We all know that the science and technology sector covers many overlapping areas of research that increasingly require a higher level of skill to keep expanding these fields of discovery.
This is particularly the case when it comes to seeking solutions to many of the capacity building issues that confront developing economies in the APEC Region. The skills needed to compete in the modern knowledge based economy are complex and require a high level of education and training. We have heard wide ranging discussion on this issue, and in the R&D Leaders' Forum session with Ministers this afternoon, this forum has urged Ministers to take this issue under further consideration.
The fact was noted in many of the sessions over the past two days that governments cannot obtain full benefits from knowledge based economy without strong partnerships with business and academia, and this will be the central theme of my remarks. Governments have to create an environment in which industry is prepared to invest in technology and skills in each economy, and transfer the knowledge required to be competitive in the science and technology sector.
Most of you will know that involving members of the private sector into the APEC process is one of the most important aspects of our work and this forum has demonstrated the value of this participation.
The suggestions and recommendations APEC receives from the private sector helps to ensure that the work of APEC remains relevant to the business community and makes a healthy contribution the development of the regional economy.
At the last Science and Technology Ministerial Meeting, informal discussion and greater interaction with private sector was actively sought an encouraged. It was recognized that well planned and implemented research and development programs are crucial for the progression of the science and technology sector in our region.
Holding the R&D Leaders' Forum concurrently with the ministerial meeting demonstrates the New Zealand government's commitment to furthering this public-private sector interaction and they should be commended for this.
This high-level dialogue, which successfully brings together R&D professionals, business representatives and government officials, has improved understanding between the private sector and policy makers. This not only includes delegates who are here today, but other interested parities in the region who will receive reports, briefings and media information on the dialogue that took place in Christchurch.
The value of the Forum was demonstrated in yesterday's discussion and in the joint session we have just concluded. Sharing ideas and concepts that are central to R & D in a range of areas from biodiversity to information technology, and at the business end, creating wealth from technology, has given us all a greater insight and understanding to the broad realities of the science and technology sector.
In the plenary sessions of the Ministerial Meeting, we talked about Connecting Research and Innovation. This showcased the necessity and importance of ongoing private sector participation in terms of promoting coordination among industry, academia and government officials of our Member Economies.
The session on Human Capacity Building also showed that government and private sector cooperation is essential in ensuring that our human skills are able to meet the demands of the expanding science and technology sector. Participation of the private sector in the development of science and technology is an indispensable element for future success.
The APEC process that we are a part of is driven by the instructions of our 21 Member Economies, and I am confident that the value of the work that has taken place at this forum will be well received. I hold great hope that a similar forum on research and development, that again brings together business, academic and government representatives, will take place again in the next couple of years. Whether this is held in conjunction with next ministerial meeting or is an independent activity, the benefits for the APEC region are clear.
Before concluding, I would like to thank Dr Chris Mallett for chairing the forum plenaries. Thank you also to the distinguished speakers, who are senior executives, researchers and officials representing a wide range of regional private and public sector interests, for your contributions.
We are also honored to have the presence of Prof Allan MacDiarmid with us, it is a privilege to have a Nobel Laureate attending this APEC event.
Thank you also to many others who contributed to this forum: the advisory board; the main sponsor - the Association of Crown Research Institutes; and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology for arranging the weeks events. Thank you also to the numerous other sponsors that have made this Forum possible.
Lastly, thank you to all delegates for your participation.
This has been a successful event and will make a substantial contribution to the ongoing development and evolution of the science and technology sector in the APEC Region.
Thank you.