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2004 APEC Science Ministers' Meeting

Christchurch, New Zealand | 09 - 11 March 2004
We, the Science Ministers and other Heads of Delegation of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, the Peoples' Republic of China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam met from 10-12 March 2004. Representatives from the APEC Secretariat were also present.
We are grateful to the New Zealand Minister for Research, Science & Technology, Hon Pete Hodgson, for his generous hospitality and effective chairing of the meeting. We also commend the organisers of the ministerial meeting and the two associated events for their efficient arrangements, which have ensured a productive and enjoyable event.
We welcomed the participation of Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the European Commission.
Connecting Science, Policy and Business
The activities of governments, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors need to be closely interlinked to ensure each economy gains the maximum benefit from science, technology and innovation.
Therefore, we welcomed New Zealand's initiative in arranging for our meeting to be held in conjunction with the APEC R&D Leaders' Forum and an Innovation Showcase. These associated events have enabled us to benefit from interaction with research leaders, innovative businesses, and investors.
Ministers enjoyed discussing a wide range of issues with leading R&D people from the APEC region. The report of the R&D Leaders' Forum is attached.
We commend the hosts of future meetings of APEC Science Ministers to consider a similar programme of events.
The theme of the ministerial meeting
The theme for our meeting, agreed by the Industrial Science & Technology Working Group (ISTWG) in May 2003, was:
Enhancing the capacity of science, technology & innovation to deliver sustainable growth across the APEC region.
Within that heading are four agreed key policy issues, ie:
  • human capacity building,
  • international Science and Technology (S&T) networks,
  • connecting research and innovation,
  • strengthening technological cooperation and encouraging best practice in strategic planning.

We appreciate the role which Korea, Australia, Canada and Thailand have played in leading the drafting groups on these issues.

Outcomes from this meeting
Recent statements by APEC Leaders and Ministers recognise the importance of promoting S&T cooperation in order to ensure the long-term economic growth of APEC economies, and of supporting global efforts to address significant sustainability issues.
During the Ministerial Retreat, which focussed on science and society, we:
  • agreed there needed to be more and better engagement between the scientific community and society in APEC economies, including the communication of benefits and risks arising from research; and
  • welcomed the offer by Australia's National Science and Technology Centre, to coordinate the development and implementation of a project to study the impact of science centre programmes and activities, and capture and disseminate best practice.

We want ISTWG to base its future programme of activities on the four key policy issues, coordinating its efforts with other APEC working groups where that would lead to a more effective and cohesive programme of work.

We also welcome the broader perspective which ISTWG now takes on the policy aspects of S&T and the contribution which science, technology and innovation make to sustainable growth, arising from work initiated at the Penang Policy Forum in 2001.

At the same time, we note that any consensus about future activities of ISTWG and other APEC working groups must take into account that individual economies are at varying stages of economic and technological development.

We need to look particularly to measures that can be adopted by governments, and areas where collaboration among economies can help address both individual and regional priorities.

Our main directions for ISTWG's future work programme are attached.

Current challenges in the sector
This is the first time that there has been an APEC Science Ministers' meeting since 1998. Since then, developments in science and technology have continued to move at a rapid pace. In seeking to ensure that science and innovation realises its potential, APEC economies face several key challenges, including:
  • Globalisation facilitated by the rapid spread and use of information and communication technology gives rise to such issues as (i) how scientists, researchers and policy makers work with each other; and (ii) the availability and use of scientific and technological information, in particular balancing effective protection of intellectual property rights against ensuring the appropriate availability of public good information derived from research and development.
  • Increasing complexity, cost and pace of science and innovation, which have spurred international cooperation, particularly in areas of science requiring large scale facilities and/or sharing of large databases and research tasks. This requires economies to ensure their science and innovation systems are open, competitive and attractive.
  • The blurring between science and industry; effective interaction between public and private sector researchers requires the appropriate scientific and innovation skills; appropriate patenting, licensing and spin off arrangements to be in place; and for the private sector to play appropriate roles in the science and innovation system.
  • Maintaining adequate funding to sustain the economy's science base, so individual economies can play a role in wider science and innovation systems.
  • Ensuring an adequate supply of appropriately skilled science and innovation personnel to maintain the basic sciences, work in multidisciplinary teams, and effectively manage science and innovation processes.
  • Ensuring that science and innovation optimise their contributions to sustainable growth through the public and private sectors playing appropriate roles.

APEC Ministers responsible for other sectors, such as human resources, small and medium enterprises and energy, should be aware of our decisions and where our respective working groups should coordinate their activities in order to make the most efficient use of APEC resources.

The concept of sustainable growth is very broad, and extends well beyond the responsibilities of science portfolios and of ISTWG. However, we are well aware that science and technology will play a pivotal role in APEC's ability to deliver sustainable growth. Science Ministers requested that ISTWG promote S&T cooperation for sustainable growth.
To ensure sustainability issues are taken into account in a wider context, we attach a number of recommendations to the 16th APEC Ministerial Meeting in November 2004.
Developing a programme of work
Ministers ask ISTWG to base its future work programme on a limited number of principles, which should include critical mass and prioritisation. Policy work differs in character from research projects, on which ISTWG has tended to concentrate in the past. The benefits from policy work depend upon a sufficient number of economies participating. ISTWG needs to ensure that the planned work programme does not exceed available resources.
Human capacity building
For S&T to fulfil its part in delivering sustainable growth to APEC economies, effective human capacity building policies must be developed and implemented, to make sure the right range of skills is in place.
We underscored the need to ensure the workforce within APEC economies is equipped to meet the scientific and technological needs of today and the challenges of the future, and that it draws on the widest pool of talent, now
and in the future.
To this end we discussed some specific challenges, including: the importance of facilitating mobility of research skills; identifying future skill sets required for science & technology; obtaining necessary information to guide study and career choices; the public image and perception of science and technology; the strengthening of education in science, mathematics, and engineering for all segments of the population; recruiting and retaining sufficient people with research and scientific skills; facilitating the active participation of women and other under-represented groups in the S&T workforce; encouraging lifelong learning; and the need for researchers to achieve a shared vision with society over the ethical aspects and value of their work.
Ministers appreciated the opportunity to interact with a group of young students and scientists on the factors that encouraged people to study and work in S&T.
We also acknowledge the importance, for democratic governance, of a public that is informed on scientific and technical issues. Ministers endorsed cooperation across the APEC region in scientific and technological research and education.
Ministers agreed that human capacity building is a top priority for economies as they become increasingly reliant on knowledge-based industries, and as more traditional industries become knowledge-intensive. To facilitate consideration of specific initiatives, we ask ISTWG as an initial step to assemble sufficient data to allow a thorough analysis and evaluation of the current situation across the APEC region.
As Science Ministers we are pleased to note that the APEC Education Ministers, meeting in April 2004, will consider issues arising in science and technology education. We commend this communiqué to them and invite them to inform us of the outcomes of that meeting.
Connecting research and innovation
Economies need to have in place policies which facilitate the efficient operation of national science and innovation systems.
We discussed the role which government policies can play in fostering research and development, the importance of public/private partnerships in managing the convergence of science and innovation, and APEC mechanisms which could help build research-based partnerships that serve the innovation needs of economies.
The blurring of boundaries between basic and applied research, and the importance of efficient interaction between science and industry as a driving factor behind the performance of innovation systems increase the need for interdisciplinary approaches and collaboration among key players.
Ministers reaffirmed the high priority of investment in fundamental research as an engine for technological innovation and economic growth.
International S&T networks
Networking is increasingly important because of the increasing complexity, cost and speed of science and innovation. At the same time, advances in information and communications technology (though not yet available evenly throughout the APEC region) are making effective networking increasingly possible.
The rapidly increasing pace of technological change and the convergence of technologies and disciplines were reflected in our discussions on:
  • the most appropriate role for governments in facilitating the establishment and operation of successful international S&T networks;
  • factors that are needed to successfully establish and operate international S&T networks;
  • ways in which economies can identify areas of science where the maximum mutual benefit would result from the establishment of international S&T networks.

Ministers noted the important role modern communications technologies can play in facilitating more effective international networking in S&T, and in this context affirmed the critical role of the APEC Science and Technology website (ASTWeb), and the need for ISTWG to ensure it operates effectively.

Strengthening Technological Cooperation and Encouraging Best Practice in Strategic Planning
Noting that many of today's major technological challenges create inter-dependence among innovation systems within the APEC region, and the need for clear directions towards delivering sustainable growth, we discussed ways in which policy decisions can best be informed by strategic intelligence and planning. Many of these require a critical mass of expertise, credible foresighting techniques, and access to sophisticated equipment and resources which cross traditional disciplines.
Establishing mechanisms for multilateral cooperation and leveraging the APEC project knowledge base should enable a more effective identification of the opportunities to address high priority S&T issues in the region.
Ministers acknowledged that the APEC Center for Technology Foresight provides a vehicle to assist with progress towards refining and developing strategic intelligence and planning tools.
APEC Science Ministers, meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand on 10-12 March 2004, tasked the Industrial Science & Technology Working Group (ISTWG) to include in its work programme the following range of activities, coordinating its activities with other APEC working groups where appropriate.
Human capacity building
Science, technological and entrepreneurial capabilities are central to economic growth and social wellbeing. Some evidence suggests that most economies face difficulties in training and retaining people with the needed science and technology (S&T) skills. We ask that ISTWG and other APEC working groups including the Human Resource Development Working Group (HRDWG) work together and consider how to promote further research on the supply and demand of needed science and technology skills within APEC economies.
The focus of this study should be whether there is a world-wide shortage of S&T skills, or a mismatch between available skills and changing demands.
Depending on the results of this work, topics that could be considered for information exchange and further study by the two working groups are:
  • The demand for S&T skills in relation to the capacity of economies to educate and train researchers, scientists and secondary & tertiary teaching staff.
  • The main factors that encourage people to study and work in the S&T field (or discourage them from doing so).
  • The key factors behind skilled S&T staff moving across borders, either within APEC or to other countries.

To ensure their S&T workforce reflects the demography of each economy and makes best use of the range of skills available, ISTWG, HRDWG and other relevant APEC fora should consider the need for programmes that promote the active participation of women, ethnic communities and other under-represented groups in science and research.

We recognise the value to individuals and to economies of broadening skills and work experience, though we are also concerned at the impact when skilled staff are lost elsewhere for the long term. A balance is needed.

We have agreed that ISTWG, in conjunction with the HRDWG and other working groups as necessary, should:

  • Consider how APEC can facilitate the exchange of S&T staff.
  • Identify successful policies to promote mobility of individual S&T staff, drawing on the work relating to the APEC Architect and APEC Engineer programmes where relevant.
  • Consider the development of curricula that incorporate science, research and technology with business and innovation.

We exchanged experience in identifying curricula, educational materials, governance systems, teaching and facilities to meet the needs of future S&T students. We task ISTWG with continuing that sharing of experience, to help identify and disseminate best practice and positive case studies.

We agreed on the importance of cooperation to raise S&T awareness among all sections of the population. We welcomed the efforts of member economies working together to enhance the contribution which science centres and museums make to increasing communities' knowledge of the benefits of science and of science careers.

International S&T Networks
Globalisation has profound implications for S&T. As economies become increasingly knowledge-based and subject to international flows of goods, services, people, investment and ideas, governments have a critical role in encouraging collaboration among universities, research institutions and business.
We want to ensure that the contribution that collaborative activities can make to sustainable economic growth is recognised.
We endorse ISTWG's earlier work which identified the following characteristics of successful international S&T networks as:
  • being researcher driven,
  • having the potential to enhance skills and knowledge,
  • having clear goals and appropriate levels of accountability,
  • dealing with issues of mutual interest for the economies involved, and
  • encouraging the involvement of all interested parties that have the capacity to make a positive contribution.

To facilitate the creation of networks of this sort within APEC, the future work programme of ISTWG should:

  • Address those framework issues over which governments have control and where intervention could remove impediments to the establishment of successful international S&T networks. These could include, for example, intellectual property arrangements and the international mobility of researchers.
  • Study existing networks within APEC, to identify best practice principles that underlie the establishment and operation of successful networks. This could include encouraging other bodies to compile information from past collaborations, to serve as a guide.
  • Explore the establishment and strengthening of international S&T networks in areas of science that have broad implications across economies and society including monitoring and prediction of climate, clean energy, the biological sciences, the nanosciences, and the information and communication technology sciences. Such networks will need to be mindful of other activity already underway.

Ministers recognised the importance across a wide range of sectors of existing networks, noting the work of the APEC Climate Network (APCN) and the Asia-Pacific International Molecular Biology Network (A-IMBN) as examples, and the proposed initiatives of "APEC Climate Center (ACC)" and "electronic International Molecular Biology Laboratory (eIMBL)" for furthering advancements in these areas.

Connecting Research and Innovation
We endorse the idea of ISTWG taking a more targeted and concerted approach to innovation policy. We ask the working group to review the work of the OECD Committee for Science & Technology Policy, which may provide a relevant model for developing and funding innovation policy studies.
Agreed indicators to measure the successful performance of science/industry relationships are an essential component of arriving at best practice. We would like ISTWG to review ways in which public research institutions are evaluated and to consider the need for additional factors to be measured, such as commercialisation outputs.
Consistent with its strengthened policy focus, which Ministers warmly support, we encourage ISTWG to enhance its work on the research/innovation interface. We leave it to ISTWG to decide on the appropriate mechanism for this, as part of its planned review of the structure of the working group. The important thing is to identify and exchange information that will assist policy development and benchmarking in relation to innovation and commercialisation. This could, for instance, comprise a series of comparative policy studies, focussing on innovation and intermediary mechanisms within member economies.
We also task ISTWG with the development of programme options on ways to bridge the gap between the S&T capabilities of the various APEC economies. Ministers highlighted the importance of identifying the digital opportunities to leverage the S&T resources among the APEC economies to build the collective capacity in the region.
Ministers welcomed the outcomes of the APEC Workshop on Development of S&T Intermediary Mechanisms and asked ISTWG to consider its recommendations. Ministers also encourage further sharing of best practices and cooperation among APEC economies in the field of innovation to enhance APEC economic development and long-term prosperity.
Strengthening Technological Cooperation and Encouraging Best Practice in Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is important for all S&T stakeholders - public and private alike - and it must be driven by those who have a vested interest in securing quality outcomes.
Having discussed ways in which policy decisions can best be informed by strategic intelligence and planning, we agreed that ISTWG should:
  • Initiate a comparison of current practices in national strategic planning, including foresighting techniques, with the intention of trying to define best practice that is most relevant for member economies.
  • Review the current directions and topics for APEC-wide foresight studies, which were last set in 1997, and consider the need for a new survey of economies to identify possible revisions.

Ministers acknowledged the work of the APEC Center for Technology Foresight, and the value of effective coordination between the activities of the Center and other groups within APEC.

We have noted the potential of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to improve the region's energy, environment and economic security, and that the Energy Working Group is developing a framework document on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as directed by APEC Leaders. We ask ISTWG and the Center for Technology Foresight to continue to collaborate with the Energy Working Group in its research on the hydrogen economy.
Ministers noted the first Earth Observation Summit that was held in the United States in July 2003, and the work of the ad hoc Group on Earth Observations (GEO) which was charged to develop an international 10 year plan for a coordinated earth observation system. The Ministers were informed that as many APEC economies as possible should participate in the Earth Observation Summit II in Japan in April 2004 and contribute to the development of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) implementation plan for comprehensive, integrated and sustained global Earth observations through a variety of mechanisms and measurements.
Ministers reaffirmed the importance of science and technology to the health sector. They encouraged cooperation among the Science Ministers, the ISTWG, APEC Senior Officials and the new APEC Health Task Force regarding needs, opportunities, and potential contributions of APEC's science and technology sector related to APEC health priorities.
Concluding Remarks
Recognising the importance and challenges of the four policy issues for sustainable growth in the region, Ministers noted the need to: (1) identify the opportunities in the four policy areas in a coherent fashion; (2) initiate targeted efforts under APEC mechanisms; and (3) ensure relevant APEC activity is leveraged to build the capability of economies throughout the region.
APEC Science Ministers' Meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand on 10-12 March 2004 agreed to recommend to the 16th meeting of APEC Ministers, to be held in November 2004:
  • That the current review of the organisational structure of APEC should consider the most effective ways of including sustainable growth concepts and priorities within the responsibilities of the bodies that comprise APEC, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of activities which take place within other international organisations;
  • That working groups take particular account of the potential value of information exchange and cooperative pilot projects on sustainable growth, the need for managers and technical personnel in enterprises within APEC economies to be aware of the principles of sustainability, and the establishment of information exchange networks on sustainable growth issues between large companies and SMEs;
  • That consideration be given to endorsing within the overall APEC structure the following working definition of sustainable growth: "growth that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" and to consider the development of a set of principles which would help guide APEC's work;
  • That business leaders within APEC be encouraged to adopt a positive approach towards sustainability concepts as a way of establishing goals that will release the creativity of engineers and scientists;
  • That economies explore effective ways of sharing best practice in training, information management and other elements of enabling sustainable growth.
This paper summarises the main points emerging from the workshops and plenary discussions held by members of the APEC R&D Leaders Forum (Forum). The overarching theme of the Forum was "Capturing value from science".
The Forum's conclusions have been grouped according to the four policy issues that are being discussed at the Ministerial meeting.
They are as follows:
Connecting Research and Innovation
Human Capacity Building
International S&T Networks
Technological Co-operation and Best Practice in Strategic Planning
Connecting Research and Innovation
  • There are three dimensions to value
  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social
  • Technology and science are different.  Science uses wealth to create knowledge and technology uses knowledge to create wealth.
    Innovation must be set within a sustainable framework and "business as usual" without regional orchestration won't achieve the change required.
  • The Forum recommends Ministers consider achieving a level of harmony between regulatory and taxation regimes in different economies throughout the region to stimulate collaboration in regional research and commercialisation.
  • Government plays a crucial role in providing an education system at all levels to ensure excellence of science and the necessary infrastructure to allow good research to flourish. There is a strong regional element to such a system.
  • The Forum acknowledges the huge divide between developed and undeveloped economies within the region and the challenges it presents to commercialising science. The Forum was unable to offer any immediate solutions to this problem, but does commend it to Ministers as an area which warrants further consideration.  Linking technology transfer to overseas aid to less developed economies was suggested by some delegates.
  • Government and researchers play an important role in gaining public understanding of emerging technologies. The Forum was keen to avoid the difficulties that have been associated with the commercialisation of genetically modified crops.
Human Capacity Building

The Forum agreed this area as the most important challenge facing the APEC region.
There is a great opportunity within APEC to facilitate this by moving people around the region in a targeted way, e.g. sharing best practice in commercialisation from universities such as staff training, use of patent pools, Intellectual Property.
Scientists need new skills; traditionally they are trained in discovery but they need to be flexible, to work well in teams, to have HR, finance and leadership skills, and be business savvy.
The Forum encourages APEC to explore opportunities for creativity and invention at the interface of indigenous and scientific knowledge systems.

International S&T Networks
  • The need to achieve more effective links with business groupings through APEC is crucial. This area needs to be fully explored and options developed as a matter of urgency.
  • The possibility of establishing an APEC research council to coordinate research effort in areas of regional interest such as sustainable development was advocated. This should have as one of its objectives the need to establish links with comparable northern hemisphere bodies, in particular the European Union.
  • Building on local and national initiatives to develop directories and programmes embracing business, venture capitalists and research communities, the Forum supports the establishment of an APEC based regional directory.
Technological Co-operation and Best Practice in Strategic Planning
The Forum acknowledges the value of coordinated strategic planning but encourages ministers not to lose sight of the fact that much innovation has a strong element of chance to it and all economies need to be able to respond effectively to this.