Skip to main content

1996 APEC Regional Science and Technology Cooperation Ministerial Meeting

Seoul, Republic of Korea | 12 - 13 November 1996
1. Ministers responsible for science and technology from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and the United States of America participated in the 2nd APEC Ministers' Conference on Regional Science and Technology Cooperation, which was held in Seoul, Korea, November 13-14, 1996. Representatives from the APEC Secretariat were also present. A complete list of Heads of Delegations attending the Conference appears as Annex 1.
2. The Conference was chaired by Dr. Bohn-Young Koo, Minister of Science and Technology, Korea. New Zealand was chosen to serve as the Rapporteur for the Joint Communique.
3. President Kim Young Sam of the Republic of Korea opened the Conference by extending the warmest welcome to all the participating delegates. He emphasized that the development of creative S&T personnel (which is taken throughout this Communique to include engineers) is essential for the promotion of science and technology (S&T) and congratulated member economies for selecting as the main topic of the Conference, "Creativity and Mobility : Researchers Across APEC." In order to raise an interest and promote exchanges in science and technology among youth in the region, the President proposed the establishment of a "Science Festival for Asia-Pacific Youth." President Kim also encouraged the Conference to have serious discussions on the ways to expand women's roles in science and technology. The President particularly reaffirmed the importance of S&T cooperation in resolving environmental problems in the region.
4. Keynote Speeches
In their Keynote Speeches, Ministers took the opportunity to reflect on regional S&T cooperation, and also shared experiences regarding recent developments in their S&T policies and systems. They expressed satisfaction with progress made on the four priority themes identified at their meeting in Beijing, October 1995, and asked for more targeted efforts on the part of the Industrial Science and Technology Working Group (ISTWG) to work on priority areas of common concern. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of S&T to continuing economic growth and agreed that it should make an even greater contribution to future sustainable and equitable development of the region. They emphasized that increased interaction between private and public sector S&T is an important stimulant for enhanced trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.
5. Report on the S&T SOM
Ministers received the report on the S&T Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), held on November 11, regarding preparations for the 2nd APEC Ministers' Conference on Regional Science and Technology Cooperation, presented by the S&T SOM Rapporteur, Indonesia.
6. Discussion on the Main Topic
Korea explained the background to the selection of the main topic for the Conference: "Creativity and Mobility: Researchers Across APEC." Ministers stressed the importance of the sharing of ideas and experience among S&T personnel in the region as fundamental to addressing this issue. They discussed various ways to enhance mobility and creativity and agreed that the ISTWG would:
  • Establish a database on post-doctoral exchange programs, other exchange and fellowship programs, facilities open to other member economies, and opportunities for joint research collaboration. Ministers noted that this work should build on existing ISTWG initiatives such as the APEC Science and Technology Network (ASTN) and the APEC S&T Web (AST Web).
  • Undertake a survey on barriers to the mobility of S&T personnel in the region. This survey should identify both general barriers, and specific barriers that affect the mobility of S&T personnel.
  • Undertake a survey of public awareness programs in member economies. Ministers particularly noted the importance of programs directed at the youth in stimulating an ongoing interest and commitment to a career in S&T.

Ministers welcomed and supported the proposal by President Kim Young Sam to establish a "Science Festival for Asia-Pacific Youth" to raise an interest and promote exchanges in science and technology among the region's youth. Stimulating the interest of youth will promote creativity in S&T in APEC economies. Ministers asked the ISTWG to conduct a further study on the establishment of the Festival, including options for hosting the Festival.

Ministers also acknowledged that an open economy is important for researcher mobility, and noted the essential role of the private sector and especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in stimulating creativity and mobility. A further important aspect is the requirement to develop S&T management skills throughout the APEC region. Ministers encouraged the development of the mutual utilization of research facilities in the region and the networking of research and development institutions to promote creativity and mobility of researchers.

While acknowledging the importance of the creativity and mobility topic, Ministers also asked the ISTWG to continue developing the other three priority themes identified at Beijing, namely the improved flows of information, science and technology, improved transparency of regulatory frameworks, and facilitation of joint research projects.

7. Progress Report on APEC ISTWG related Projects and Activities
Ministers were briefed by the Lead Shepherd of the ISTWG from Japan, on the status of APEC S&T projects including those proposed at the Beijing S&T Ministers' Conference, follow-up activities to the IST Action Program of the Osaka Action Agenda, and new projects proposed since the Beijing Conference. Ministers noted progress made by the ISTWG on several priority areas since the last Ministers' Conference, particularly projects to facilitate S&T information flows. They expressed their support for continued progress to address other priorities including natural disaster mitigation and human health. Ministers noted recent major steps forward by the ISTWG, such as the ISTWG Handbook, including the IST Joint Research Promotion Guidelines for more efficient operation of the ISTWG. Ministers affirmed the Chair's view that the ISTWG is making good progress in projects and activities in the Beijing Conference.
8. APEC S&T Web Presentation
Ministers expressed satisfaction with the progress on development of the APEC S&T Web site, and thanked Australia, Japan and Korea for their practical demonstration of the site. They welcomed plans to enhance the capabilities of the Web site and to make its coverage of S&T in APEC economies more comprehensive. Access to information on S&T institutes and capabilities was seen as an important component in facilitating greater creativity and mobility in the region.
9. Open Ideas Forum
The "Open Ideas Forum" was co-chaired by Minister Koo (Korea) and Ambassador Perrault (Canada).
A discussion paper, "Gender and Science and Technology in Knowledge-Based Economies: Some Considerations for APEC", prepared on a voluntary basis by Canada, provided the framework for Ministerial consideration of the main topic of the Open Ideas Forum. Dr. Koo invited Professor Bonnie Kettel, York University, Canada, Director, Gender Advisory Board, UN Commission on S&T for Development, and member of the Senior Women Leaders' Network from APEC economies, to review key issues.
Ministers addressed the issue of under-representation of women in science and technology in the Asia-Pacific region. They affirmed the importance of enhancing the recruitment and retention of highly talented women in science and technology. Ministers identified the importance of removing barriers, and promoting the full contribution of women to S&T innovation and creativity as an essential element in meeting APEC's goal of achieving sustainable and equitable development.
Building upon the initiative suggested by President Kim Young Sam, Korea, to mount a "Science Festival for Asia-Pacific Youth," Ministers noted the importance of the active participation of both girls and boys in this and other public awareness events. They reiterated the critical importance of fostering positive values and attitudes toward S&T among youth. Ministers acknowledged that sharing gender "best practices" and policy instruments would assist their economies in raising the interest of both girls and boys in science.
Viewing the APEC Web site as an important tool for future exchange and support, Ministers encouraged the ISTWG to continue to gather further information on "Best Practices" and to use the Web Site as a focal point for accessing gender data and tapping into APEC gender expertise.
They noted with satisfaction that the ISTWG would be holding an experts policy workshop in 1997 whose purpose will be to discuss the problems related to gathering and analyzing gender-disaggregated data, and entrusted the WG to report back to them at the 3rd Ministers' Conference. Ministers also suggested that it would be useful for the ISTWG to create an Ad Hoc Group of interested economies that could share best gender practices, design a gender and S&T information site on the APEC web page, and provide an informal forum for the exchange of policy ideas on gender and S&T. Ministers recognised gender as a cross-cutting theme with implications in other APEC fora such as the Human Resource Development (HRD) Working Group, the SME Policy Level Group, and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). They urged the ISTWG to liaise with these fora, the newly formed Senior Women Leaders Network of APEC economies, and other Asia-Pacific gender fora, on joint activities.
In addition to the topic of "Gender and S&T," Ministers discussed a range of other issues and indicated that they would like the ISTWG to consider appropriate activities in the following areas:
  • Ministers reaffirmed the importance of public awareness of S&T as a common issue in the APEC region, and noted that Japan would be hosting a symposium on this issue.
  • The United States described a recent policy to assure the international community of continued free access to its Global Positioning System (GPS) and the meeting welcomed this announcement, particularly the removal of selective availability within the coming decade. It was noted that this policy should enhance the contribution of GPS to sustainable development, and Ministers asked the ISTWG to explore possibilities for the innovative use of GPS in solving regional issues.
  • Ministers commended the ISTWG for accepting the challenge of developing a Cleaner Production / Clean Technology Strategy. Ministers were pleased to learn about the progress already made in drafting the terms of reference for the Cleaner Production / Clean Technology Task Force and developing elements of the strategy.
  • Noting the importance of health issues in sustainable development, Ministers expressed appreciation of progress made through the ISTWG to address emerging infectious diseases.
  • Ministers requested the ISTWG to explore the need for a code of ethical conduct for researchers in APEC.
10. Seoul Declaration
Ministers adopted the Seoul Declaration which set the following goals for enhancing researcher mobility and creativity in the APEC region:
  • Promote greater sharing of S&T information, training and research programs, and research facilities;
  • Strengthen the exchange of scientific and technical men and women across the region through measures that might include:
    - lowering institutional and non-institutional barriers; and
    - developing new and enhanced mechanisms for exchange.
  • Attract creative and talented young people to take up careers in science and technology.

Member economies will also develop individual plans and work toward achieving these goals by the year 2010. The Declaration constitutes a significant step toward recognizing and fulfilling the vision of the creation of an Asia-Pacific community through cooperative effort in the domain of S&T.

11. Next Ministers' Conference
Ministers welcomed and accepted the generous offer by the Mexican government to host the 3rd APEC S&T Ministers' Conference in 1998 and looked forward to meeting again at that time.
12. Closing Statements
In closing, the Chair, Dr. Bohn-Young Koo, thanked the delegates for their cooperation and active contributions to the Conference and noted with pleasure the agreement and progress made on the key themes of the Conference. Ministers thanked Dr. Koo for his excellent chairing of the meeting, and the government of Korea for their excellent arrangements and warm hospitality.