Participants in this week’s APEC Voices of the Future 2021 summit will hear from an impressive line-up of speakers including YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, APEC Secretariat Executive Director Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake, Al Jazeera correspondent Wayne Hay and New Zealand’s first University Director of Diversity, AUT’s Professor Edwina Pio.
The programme will also feature a range of young speakers from business, politics, academia and youth movements, bringing their distinctive perspectives to the issues.
The annual Voices of the Future event brings together 18 to 24-year-olds from across the APEC region to discuss the big issues facing the world and have their voices heard by APEC leaders. The AUT-hosted event is on November 9 and 10 and is part of APEC Leaders’ Week, the culmination of New Zealand’s hosting of APEC 2021.
This year’s event has a record number of APEC economies attending, generating the largest turn-out in the event’s 23-year history. Delegates will hear from speakers on the event’s four key themes - International Co-operation to Combat COVID-19, The Digital Future, A Greener Future, and A Future for All.
At the end of the event, the delegates will present their 2021 Youth Declaration to the Chair of APEC, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
As well as hosting and coordinating the virtual event, AUT is also represented by academics and alumni. Director of Diversity Professor Edwina Pio will be speaking during the ‘Future for All’ section. Professor Jarrod Haar and Dr Jessica Vredenburg from the Faculty of Business are involved in a session on ‘Business in the APEC’ region.
AUT alumna Tracy Han, who was a New Zealand Voices of the Future delegate in Da Nang, Vietnam, in 2017, leads the APEC NZ Voices Alumni Working Group and is co-facilitating the “future for all” section of this year’s Youth Declaration.
“The Voices experience made me a whole lot more confident and open to sharing my voice. As a young person, it’s really important to put yourself out there and take opportunities and say what you have to say,” says Tracy, who has a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from AUT, majoring in International Studies, and Human Resources Management and Employment Relations. She warmly acknowledges the support she received from AUT staff Jacklyn Lim and Lian-Hong Brebner during her time at AUT.
Asked what she got out of the Voices experience, she says: “So much! The networking, interactions with government and business leaders through the APEC Voices Youth Forum and attending the APEC CEO Summit. Exposure to APEC and the key issues, getting to unpack those important issues and engage in valuable dialogue. The opportunity to meet the Prime Minister (Jacinda Ardern) and have breakfast with the New Zealand delegation was also a very special moment.”
As a facilitator this time, Tracy is connecting with the new group of delegates and is looking forward to seeing how the event unfolds. “As it will be run virtually in the midst of a global pandemic, it will be an incredibly unique experience.”
And she says the work she did in Vietnam is still very relevant today. “The things I contributed, I still believe in today –– including making sure everyone has access to digital technologies and the ability to work in the future.”
The Voices of the Future speaker line-up includes: