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APEC 2015 Voices of the Future Journey

November 18, 2015

5 young AustraliAPEC Logo_jpg_vertical300dpian's represented Australian youth at APEC –  VOICES OF THE FUTURE 2015 November 12-19, 2015 in Manila Philippines

Founded in 2007, APEC Voices of the Future is a youth meeting for exchanges among young students(18-25 years of age) from each of the 21 economies represented and is held concurrently with the APEC Summit, aiming to let young students know more about APEC, expand their horizons, stimulate their enthusiasm for taking on the roles of leaders, and promote in-depth cultural exchanges among countries.

Australia through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award nominated 5 participants (4 youth participants and 1 educator) to represent Australia at APEC Voices of the Future Youth Forum 2015 held in Manila Philippines November 12-19.

The theme was “Building a Sustainable Future: Inclusive Growth, Resilience, Empowerment”.

Attended by over 120 delegates from 21 APEC Economies the meeting provides a platform to address issues relating to APEC from a young leaders perspective.

Read who represented Australia at the 2015 APEC Voices of the Future Forum here




Day 1, Thursday, 12 November 2015

Most of the group arrived in Manila to be greeted with a warm welcome from the Filipino people.  The Australian team met each other over dinner and had a brief orientation and briefing conducted by Mr Noel Gould, Chairman, Virtual Trade Mission Foundation International APEC Voices Leadership Council and APEC Voices Working Committee, Philippines. The group then joined their fellow APEC delegates from Japan, the Philippines, and Chinese Taipei for a dinner filled with engaging conversations on the summit and relevant issues affecting young people.


APEC 2015 Ben       APEC 2015 Presentation 2    APEC 2015 Attendees

Day 2, Friday, 13 November 2015 - Asian Development Bank

The first official day of the Forum program took the APEC youth representatives to the Asian Development Bank for the opening session which focused on improving their understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals and the sharing and development of ideas on how they as youth could promote progress on these.

APEC 2015 Group PhotoFollowing this, they had the privilege of being joined by key leaders and members of ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council) for a forum in which they listened to an responded to issues raised by youth delegates. This was followed by a reception with these business leaders at Ayala Museum: a night of learning about the history of the Philippines and getting the opportunity to speak to business leaders and other youth delegates.

The group had the opportunity to meet the influential magnate, Jaime Zobel de Ayala at the opening function and Australian Youth representative - Miguel Vera-Cruz as a Filipino, travelling through the regions of Manila, was taken back to his cultural heritage and felt inspired to take up more of a leadership position in encouraging Filipinos to recognise themselves, and to stand up and be counted on the world stage, for their long-term development and growth. Miguel said " Through the APEC summit, I have gained the courage to embrace my Filipino heritage, and believe this platform will be the bridge between Australia and the Philippines, and an opportunity for the host nation to increase its presence in the global leadership arena. The APEC Voices of the Future summit has inspired me to engage in cross cultural community development- growing together in a regional context".


Day 3, Saturday 14 November 2015 - Opening Ceremony

The APEC Voices of the Future 2015 Opening Ceremony was welcomed by Mr James Soh, Co-Chair of the APEC Voices Leadership Council, and Mr Richard Bolt of the Asian Development Bank, with addresses from H.E Cesar Purisima, Secretary of Finance, Republic of the Philippines and H.E. Philip Goldberg, US Ambassador to the Philippines. Then, with a ceremonial strike of a triangle, the conference was open!

Mr Noel Gould, Co-Chair of the APEC Voices Leadership Council, addressed the youth forum. Mr Gould spoke on how youth can contribute to building sustainable and resilient communities in the Asia Pacific region. Next, a representative from each economy presented a youth declaration. Each economy shared their strengths and aspirations, with Miguel speaking on behalf of the Australian delegation.

The delegates were then introduced to 'Youth4Asia', an initiative of the Asian Development Bank. Youth4Asia, among other projects, facilitates a competition that encourages youths to design and implement creative solutions to current needs.


Day 4, Sunday 15 November 2015 - Cultural Tour to Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm

The group visit Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Bulacan

After a short plenary, delegates got to tour around the GK Enchanted Farm, led by Tony Meloto and other social entrepreneurs.

The delegates also got the chance to experience different social enterprise demos, where the entrepreneurs explained and demonstrated how the products are made. Some of them even got to try making these products themselves.


Day 5, Monday 16 November 2015 - APEC CEO Summit

APEC CEO Summit 2015 “Creating the Future: Better, Stronger, Together” and the APEC CEO Summit – Welcome Reception

The Australian delegation joined the other Voices delegates, business leaders and CEOs for the commencement of the APEC CEO Summit.

President Benito Aquino III opened the summit by addressing the packed crowd, speaking about the importance of inclusive growth and how his anti-corruption, economically focused government has aimed to promote this. The second summit session featured a panel discussing the current geopolitical and economic situation in the world, with insights from President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Ian Bremmer (president of the Eurasia group), Dennis Nally (Global Chairman PWC) and John Rice (vice chairman of General Electric). This mix of perspectives from business, government and geopolitical analytics gave the delegates present an enhanced appreciation of the interconnectedness of international affairs, with a particularly interesting insight being the Asia-Pacific's relative international political stability enticing greater investment. The afternoon session opened with an engaging talk by David Plouffe about Uber not being in competition with taxis but rather aiming to shape the way people use cars and benefit from the sharing economy. This then progressed to a panel discussing innovation and entrepreneurship, presenting the example of Taiwan/Chinese Taipei's transition into a high-tech economy.

There was a consensus among the panelists that it is more effective to use existing infrastructure more efficiently, rather than build infrastructure additional infrastructure.APEC 2015 Australian Attendees

Another issue discussed was how disruption (whether natural or man made) will alter the way cities operate. The panel agreed that ability to cope with and absorb disruption is important to improve the cities of the future.

The Australian youth representatives met Mr Doyle at the reception after the summit and talked about the panel discussion.

As the engaging first day drew to a close, the youth and other delegates made their way to Ayala Plaza for a Fiesta-themed welcome reception. This extravagant affair was truly spectacular, giving the delegates both a vision of the fiestas that take place in each province in the Philippines along with a chance to meet some of the business leaders attending the summit.


Photo with Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, with the backdrop of the spectacular Ayala Triangle.  With Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick, Sophie Walters and Ruth Parsons.
Photo with Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, with the backdrop of the spectacular Ayala Triangle. With Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick, Sophie Walter and Ruth Parsons.

Day 6, Tuesday 17th November 2015 - APEC CEO Summit and SME Summit

The youth delegates formed two groups, with each attending the APEC CEO Summit 2015 and the SME Summit.


A highlight from the CEO Summit was a panel discussion on building better cities. There was one Australian representative was on the panel - Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne. Mr Doyle discussed a significant challenge for our future cities; connecting federal, state, local and private entities to build infrastructure.


Day 7, Wednesday 18th November 2015 - Youth Declarationobama

At the CEO Summit they heard addresses by the President of China H.E. Xi Jinping, the PM of Russia - Dmitry Medvedev and  US President Obama moderates the conversation between entrepreneurs Mr Jack Ma & Ms Aisa Mijeno.

President Obama's address framed the discussion of protecting the environment and sustainability, highlighting the key roles measures that young business leader can undertake. Interestingly, Ms Mijeno, a Filipino engineer, has developed a lamp fueled by saltwater. Such innovation is critical to the development of rural areas, and working towards a more sustainable resource. The discussion engaged the youth delegates to consider environmental sustainability and greater community benefit.

Today the youth educators signed off the Youth Declaration.

Developing a declaration that reflected the aspirations of such a diverse range of economies was certainly a challenge! The differing perspectives and priorities of the economies was difficult to meet, however, through collaboration, the youth delegates identified developed key themes within their groups. These themes included:

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Empowering Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) through possible tax deductions, and enabling them in E-commerce
  • Education and capacity building

The opportunity for the group to workshop through their ideas and synergise with other delegates, enhanced their understanding of natural resource management, and its impact on global businesses.closing ceremony

The APEC 2015 Voices programme concluded with a night of fun, laughter and friendship. With speeches and awards, the working committee and delegates thanked each other for all their work and participation and were treated to a dance performance by a local Filipino group. The group dressed up in Australian attire as bush conservationists; a theme which was loved by the other delegates.The ceremony concluded with exchange of gifts and well wishes. The delegates experienced a unique week of learning, collaborating and developing their voice as an active generation involved in world and regional affairs.