Our student leaders contribute to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Youth Forum
7 March 2017
Half the delegation sent by Australia to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Voices of the Future in Lima, Peru last November were students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.
Of the six young Australians, the three from the University of Sydney were: Philip Chan, Australian Leader and Educator (Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications)/Bachelor of Laws alumnus and current University staff), Isobel McDonald, Youth Delegate (Bachelor of International and Global Studies/Bachelor of Laws student), and Zoe Neill, Youth Delegate (Bachelor of International and Global Studies student).
Philip, Isobel and Zoe joined 120 other youth delegates from 21 APEC Economies, selected as part of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
Held concurrently with the APEC Summit, APEC Voices of the Future is a platform for exchanges between young students.
The aim of the youth forum is to foster knowledge of APEC, expand students’ horizons, stimulate their enthusiasm to take on leadership roles, and to promote in-depth cultural exchanges.
Philip Chan deployed a unique tactic when he delivered a speech on behalf of Australia at the youth forum.
“It was a creative spoken-word poem that inspired the delegates and world leaders to ‘give a fair go’ to young people in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “We shared the world stage with world leaders, CEOs and industry experts to discuss the theme of ‘Quality Growth and Sustainable Development.'
"The world leaders in attendance included the United States President Barack Obama in his last international appearance, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg."
Isobel found that much of the forum discussion focused on equal opportunity and issues in uneven development and she was able to contribute insights from her International and Global Studies core units to these conversations.
“My studies gave me a great foundation for the forum discussions in terms of an understanding of issues and a good grasp on the depth and breadth of perspectives,” said Isobel.
Zoe also found her International Relations scholarship assisted in the understanding of how economic ties between countries work.
“International trade organisations are fundamental to creating working trade partnerships between economies and international businesses, and it was truly exciting to see this in action at the conference,” she said.
Philip, Isobel and Zoe attended the APEC Business Advisory Council and APEC CEO Summit, where Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund Managing Director, gave a speech on women’s economic empowerment.
“The highlight was listening to her speak,” said Isobel.
“Her speech about women’s economic participation and inclusion was insightful and inspiring and it was so surreal to have the opportunity to hear her.
“For me, the forum really confirmed the imperative to include women in the economy, and to establish structures and programs to support their economic participation, especially in the developing world.”
One of the highlights for Philip was meeting Malcolm Turnbull, as well as other youth delegates from the region.
“Leading the Australian youth delegation was a truly unforgettable experience,” he said.
“It was phenomenal to meet the youth delegates from across the region, learning and understanding each other’s cultures, and sharing our dreams and passions.
“These inspiring leaders are now my friends, offering incredible hope for our region’s future.”
Zoe also appreciated the new and engaged network and is now inclined to investigate international trade partnerships further.
“I learnt that many other delegates from all over the Asia Pacific had similar concerns, and it was exciting to watch us work together to come up with solutions,” she said.
“I have definitely developed a growing interest regarding international organisations and their role in generating economic growth.
“Through this experience, as well as my studies, I am now eager to explore the nature of trade partnerships and treaties on a deeper level.”