Former ANU National Security College student Liam Jones recently returned from Da Nang, Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Voices of the Future Summit.
Founded in 2007, APEC Voices of the Future brings together young students from each APEC economy to participate in deal-making and economic policy development. Over the course of his week in Da Nang, Liam and his co-delegates had the opportunity to put forward their own ideas for economic growth, which were then passed on to the economic leaders at APEC.
This year’s theme, “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future”, encouraged the youth delegation to consider strategies for more inclusive growth.
“We need to unlock new dynamism in our economies, by empowering people that might not be empowered: youth, Indigenous groups, minority groups, women and others,” says Liam.
“When you support people to fulfil their potential, the result is a better outcome for the whole economy.”
Many of the delegates shared concern for rising trends in nationalism and protectionism, advocating a new narrative for trade liberalisation to encourage open markets and open borders. All maintained the need to remain optimistic in the face of challenging circumstances.
“I was struck by the fact that what unites us as a region is stronger than what divides us,” he says.
“I think that optimistic view is lost in a lot of the discussions, but it was really encouraging to see that there was actually a lot that brings us together,” he added.
Liam holds a Master of National Security Policy from the University’s National Security College, part of the Crawford School at ANU College of Asia & the Pacific.
“The National Security College and the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre prepared me particularly well for this opportunity,” he acknowledges.
“They gave me a good sense of what’s going on in the region, but also a deeper skill set around how to interact with my peers in a way to drive better outcomes.”
Most of all, Liam was encouraged by the level of engagement he had with APEC leaders themselves, particularly in Australia. Both during the conference and in the lead-up, the team of Australian delegates held meetings with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steve Ciobo, and APEC Ambassador Simon Newnham. In the coming weeks, they will also meet with ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans.
“Without exception, they were all interested to hear our voices and how we were seeing things. Hopefully we enriched their understanding and injected a bit of optimism back into the discussion,” he says.
Liam was one of six youth delegates selected to represent Australia at the conference, which runs parallel to the APEC Economic Leaders Week. Two other students from the ANU, Georgia Eccles and Catherine Pilley, also attended the conference.
Image credit: APEC and Liam Jones.
Order of delegates: Eleanor Kirkpatrick, Cath Pilley, Liam Jones, Robert Deppeler, Sophie Batey and Georgia Eccles.
APEC Voices of the Future 2018 will be held in Papua New Guinea. Applications can be made through the Duke of Edinburgh Award,
By CAP student correspondent Dot Mason.