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Apec forum turns the spotlight on importance of inclusivity for sustainable development
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2022
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shared her experience in implementing inclusive growth with executives from Google and Toshiba Thailand in an effort to support an inclusive economy in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) region.
Ardern stated during an open forum discussion on “Promoting Inclusive Growth and Development in APEC” that inclusion is always her guiding principle when launching any policies or regulations after discovering that some people in her country are still living in poverty even as the country grows.
“We ensure that national development means improving people’s lives. We measure by prioritising people’s happiness and welfare … for example, by educating girls and young children, who will change the lives of the entire community,” Ardern said.
She mentioned some of her government’s projects to help indigenous people and micro, small, and medium-sized businesses so that no one in New Zealand is left behind.
She admitted that while some of her projects are not perfect, they do help her government learn and do better the next time.
Her efforts drew thunderous applause from the audience.
An inclusive economy, along with sustainability, is one of the buzzwords at this year’s Apec CEO Summit, as countries around the world reopen their borders but struggle to connect with one another.
Ardern insisted that inclusion and cooperation are critical for driving economic growth in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Karan Bhatia, Google’s Global Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy, and Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Toshiba Thailand’s chairperson, both agreed with her.
They emphasised that for sustainable growth, everyone must participate and benefit.
Bhatia said one factor contributing to negative public perception of globalisation is a lack of inclusive growth.
Hence, establishing an integrated region with opportunities for all will significantly aid expansion of the Asia-Pacific.
He highlighted the significance of technology and digitalisation as another secret weapon for increasing people engagement and providing enormous opportunities for small businesses and underrepresented individuals to scale upwards.
So, it is critical to educate people in digital skills and literacy, according to Bhatia.
Kobkarn added that inclusive growth should be the responsibility of all parties, including policymakers, the private sector, and local citizens.
She emphasised the importance of collaboration, which must be accompanied by real action and based on long-term sustainability as a goal.
“Collaboration does not imply another memorandum of understanding. You must believe in your ability to make a difference. Start with yourself and we can change the world,” Kobkarn stated emphatically.
Although it is easier said than done, Ardern encouraged everyone not to lose hope, to hold on to the benefits of integration, and to ensure that they reach everyone.