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Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised 4th APEC Media Focus Group to exchange views on promoting Khon Kaen as a Smart City, in line with Thailand’s theme as APEC host

          On 22 June 2022, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Khon Kaen University International College (KKUIC) co-hosted the 4th APEC Media Focus Group (AMF) under the theme “Smart City and Connectivity”, as an open forum for experts from the government, private sector, universities, and civil society to brainstorm and exchange views on the development of smart city and connectivity in Khon Kaen and North-eastern region, which related to the priorities of Thailand’s APEC host year. The session was moderated by Mr. Natapanu Nopakun, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Information.

          From the opening session, Mr. Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs and APEC Senior Official of Thailand, explained how Thailand could help materialise the APEC goal of inclusive development to deal with rapid changes around the world through the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy. In this regard, Mr. Chaivaivid stated that Khon Kaen could potentially become a regional hub to drive the BCG Economy agenda through a smart city.

          Asst. Prof. Sirimonbhorn Thipsingh, Dean of KKUIC, explained how smart cities could attract quality tourists from Europe and China and how smart citizenship was required to build a strong foundation for a smart city. She stressed the readiness of KKU to equip students with the necessary skills to become “smart citizens”. Mr. Channarong Buristrakul, President of Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the province’s economic potential as the centre for transport, logistics, education, and medicine, among others. Asst. Prof. Chavis Ketkaew, Associate Dean for Strategy, Research, and International Affairs, presented a business model from his research on the circular and creative economy to reduce, recycle, and add value to local mango waste. Mr. Sa-nga Sattanun, Program Manager of Mekong Institute, pointed out how the infrastructure development of Khon Kaen could enhance connectivity within the Sub-Mekong and the Asia-Pacific region. Mr. Charoenlak Phetpradab, Secretary-General for the Khon Kaen for the Future Foundation, put an emphasis on the role of civil society as a coordinator to build networks and ensure participation from all concerned sectors.

         Such insightful comments from the speakers reflected the importance of urban development, which is essential to realising the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040. A “smart” city requires socially “responsible” citizens, government, infrastructure, and business environment. Evidently, Khon Kaen has shown its readiness to become not only a smart city but also a regional connectivity hub of the future.

        On this occasion, DDG Natapanu, along with the Governor of Khon Kaen Province and members of the press, participated in the opening ceremony of the “APEC2022 on tour: Khon Kaen” Exhibition highlighting priorities and progress of Thailand’s APEC host year as well as showcasing the province’s economic potential, including products from local enterprises. The exhibition is being held during 22 – 26 June 2022 at Central Plaza Khon Kaen.

         The group also paid a visit to the Rajamangala University of Technology Isan, Khon Kaen Campus to observe the research and development of the Light Rail Transit, which could boost the province’s economy and enhance regional connectivity.