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Young People Deliver Strong Message To APEC Leaders

A raft of practical ways to help solve global issues has been delivered to APEC leaders by youth delegates participating in APEC Voices of the Future 2021.

Around 90 delegates from 21 APEC economies have been meeting online this week to discuss four key issues - the impact of Covid-19, the digital future, climate change and sustainability, and socio-economic inclusion. This virtual event was hosted by APEC Voices New Zealand and AUT, and included four Kiwi delegates – Lit Wei Chin, Sophie Handford, Jess Jenkins and Shisla Macleod.

The delegates’ Youth Declaration, which was presented to APEC 2021 Chair, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today, says to face the challenges ahead, leaders must:

  • build resilience and ensure equal access to vital medical resources
  • improve access to education via technology
  • push ahead with sustainability and develop connectivity, and
  • ensure the wellbeing of our environment, society, and future generations

Specific ideas suggested by the Voices of the Future delegates, include:

Co-operation to combat Covid-19

  • APEC to create an emergency fund to provide financial support to members during future pandemics
  • develop a common set of pandemic protocols

Digital future

  • overcome coverage and affordability issues to improve digital connectivity and literacy
  • hold technology companies accountable, and establish independent fact-checkers to combat disinformation

Climate change

  • invest far more in research and development to allow a shift away from unsustainable materials such as plastics and fossil fuels, and develop carbon capture technology
  • create a circular economy and push the 3Rs of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle


  • shift mindsets significantly to ensure inclusivity and opportunities for all
  • set specific targets to ensure marginalised groups are prioritised with education, upskilling, and development -

The delegates made it clear that, with one billion young people making up one third of the APEC region’s population, their voices must be heard.

“Right now, we are at a crucial junction. We are in the midst of many challenges, also bringing a rising tide of opportunity to build resilience, to enhance equitable outcomes and access to education, to value and develop connectivity, to centre sustainability, and to cast a lens of collective wellbeing of our environment, society, and future generations. Here, in this Declaration, we have been bold. Now, we call upon our APEC Leaders to do the same.”

To read the full Voices of the Future 2021 Declaration, go to: www.apec2021nz.org/apec-nz-2021/voices

About APEC Voices New Zealand: New Zealand is the host of APEC in 2021, and is partnering with AUT, the Voices NZ Trust and the APEC Voices Secretariat in Singapore to deliver the APEC Voices of the Future 2021 programme. The APEC Voices New Zealand programme was launched in 2004 with funding from the Fletcher Foundation. This enabled their first delegation to travel to Chile. For five years the Voices Trust held national events to select four students to represent New Zealand. Throughout, a number of New Zealand universities and Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) have been strong supporters of the programme by selecting and funding students to represent New Zealand at the international events now organised by the APEC Voice Secretariat, Singapore.

About AUT: Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is one of the world’s best modern universities. Home to more than 29,000 students across three campuses, AUT leads Australasia in global research impact, with over 60 research centres and institutes delivering leading research – from artificial intelligence to robotics, and ecology to public health. As a contemporary university, AUT is connected to an extraordinary range of organisations worldwide; sharing expertise and resources, collaborating on ground-breaking research, and connecting students with industry leaders and employers. Learn more about AUT

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