Dodwell in 2013 SOM2 Surabaya - Post 4

April 11, 2013

When is a “policy partnership” not a policy partnership? When out of a meeting of around 80 people, just three at the table are representing business, then it is difficult to see where “partnership” – or any material form of business input – exists.

My sense after sitting through almost two days of the marathon three day inaugural meeting of the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI) is that for most around the table this is “business as usual” back to the days of the now-disbanded Industry, Science and Technology Working Group (ISTWG): through most of Tuesday and Wednesday, participants waded through presentations from almost every APEC economy on current technology policies.Then followed a similarly huge sequence of academic presentations on initiatives or work programmes that in one form or another have attracted APEC funding. Can I imagine seniors in top Asia-Pacific-based technology companies travelling at their own corporate expense to wade through such activity: not a chance! The challenge we face in the Policy Partnership on Food Security is present in spades in the PPSTI.

Significantly, a large enough number of officials from APEC economies – and from inside the APEC Secretariat – are aware of this challenge for them to have driven a rather phrenetic background discussion in Surabaya on how the structure of the group can be adjusted to secure meaningful business input.  In the background, officials were obviously also thinking about the PPFS and the parallel concern there about the nature of business input. The pressure was acute on our “Principal Advisor” to provide thoughts on how problems can be remedied. Nick Brooke was clearly regarded around the table as the spokesperson in the room from ABAC – obviously an awkward position for him after just one meeting with ABAC, and absolutely no “mandate” to talk on ABAC’s behalf. Some serious policy thinking has to be done if the “Policy Partnership” formula is to work. This is clearly all going to have to be properly discussed by our ABAC Members. And we may not have the luxury of waiting to ABAC3 in Kyoto, since PPSTI folks would like to deliberate on possible changes in PPSTI2, which is planned late in June for the Medan SOM cluster. How do we tackle this challenge?? Who knows…

* Read post from Surabaya


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