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Towards Balance in All Aspects: Driving forward the BCG concept at APEC SOM2

The Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and related meetings is continuing discussions pertinent to sustainable and inclusive growth under Thailand’s host year theme of “Open. Connect. Balance.”, with the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model as the overarching thinking. The APEC SOM2 agenda centres around the still fragile recovery from COVID-19, coupled with pressing economic challenges from global disruptions, and discussions on sustainability will focus on (1) accelerating APEC’s work on sustainability through the BCG Economy concept, and (2) leveraging the whole-of-society approach to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth by promoting understanding and greater utilisation of the BCG economy among businesses and youth.

Thailand has proposed the “Bangkok Goals on BCG Economy”, as a key deliverable under the APEC 2022’s priority of “Balance in All Aspects”, to accelerate APEC’s efforts towards sustainability through the BCG Economy concept. This Leaders’ level document was first introduced at the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting (ISOM) in Phuket last December and is a work in progress. The Bangkok Goals on the BCG Economy will seek to advance APEC’s sustainability agenda in a more holistic and integrated manner by emphasising the whole-of-society and whole-of-APEC-system approach to achieve 4 goals, namely (1) climate action including net zero greenhouse gas emissions (2) sustainable trade and investment, (3) sustainable management of resources and conservation of the environment and biodiversity, and (4) resource efficiency and sustainable waste management. During SOM2, the Bangkok Goals on BCG Economy Dedicated Session will be held on 17 May 2022. APEC Senior Officials will have a strategic discussion on the substance and implementation of the draft, which will be further developed and submitted for endorsement at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok in November 2022.

APEC SOM2 is also paving the way for the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting on 21-22 May 2022, which will discuss pathways towards sustainable development, based on the BCG Economy approach. Discussions will emphasise engaging the whole of society, especially businesses and youth. The APEC BCG Symposium 2022 will be held on 20 May 2022, with a key focus on increasing MSMEs competitiveness through necessary knowledge and know-how for a sustainable future, providing policy guidance on incentivising and stimulating the private sector to apply the BCG model for more sustainable businesses, and building networks between stakeholders across the region. In terms of youth engagement, APEC’s young talents in software development will have the opportunity to participate in the 2022 APEC App Challenge, organised in collaboration with key private and development partners during 19-20 May 2022. They will compete to develop digital tools to help farmers and potential entrepreneurs make better use of the BCG approach for more sustainable agri-food businesses, and connect them with more market opportunities through greater access to both local and export markets.

At the core of promoting “Balance in All Aspects” is to ensure that people and businesses in the Asia-Pacific region will benefit from a long-term economic growth in tandem with social and environmental objectives. This can be achieved by creating more conducive and resilient trade and investment environment that empowers all groups of society through green and digital transformation.