At the invitation of the Parliament of Canada, the 24th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) was held in Vancouver, Canada from 17 to 21 January 2016 with 252 participants - including 113 parliamentarians - from 20 member countries and 1 observer country.
The first-ever APPF Meeting of Women Parliamentarians was held on 17 January, before the opening of the Annual Meeting. More than 40 delegates from 14 countries participated in the meeting Co-Chaired by the Honourable Dr. Nurhayati Ali Assegaf (Indonesia) and the Honourable Senator Mobina Jaffer (Canada). The Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, the Honourable Geoff Regan, addressed the participants and communicated Canada's full support for this inaugural meeting, underlining that it would provide a legacy that would enrich APPF meetings for years to come.
The Meeting of Women Parliamentarians addressed themes that included women's participation in political and public life and women's leadership in building disaster-resilient communities. From these discussions, there was overwhelming consensus among the delegates who participated in the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians that there should be a permanent event at every Annual Meeting. This meeting also supported further consideration of the ways in which women's participation in APPF Executive Committee Meetings could be increased.
The Executive Committee convened on 17 January where it approved the Agenda and Program for the Annual Meeting. The Honourable Joseph A. Day, Senator of Canada, was confirmed as the Chair of the Drafting Committee.
On 18 January 2016, the Honourable Donald Neil Plett, Senator of Canada and President of the APPF, opened the Annual Meeting. The Honourable George Furey, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, and the Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, provided keynote remarks. On behalf of the Mayor of Vancouver, the Deputy Mayor, Ms. Heather Deal, welcomed all delegates to the city of Vancouver. The Honourable Takuji Yanagitnoto, Member of the House of Councillors and Head of the Delegation of Japan, delivered a speech on behalf of the APPF Honorary President, His Excellency Mr. Yasuhiro Nakasone. Ms. Pam Goldsmith-Jones, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada's 1.finister of Foreign Affairs, addressed the plenary on behalf of the Honourable Stephane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
At the conclusion of the opening plenary session, the Agenda for the 24th Annual Meeting was adopted. The Honourable David Tkachuk, Senator of Canada, and Mr. Geng Tan, Member of Parliament of Canada's House of Commons, were designated as the Annual Meeting's Co-Chairs.
In the plenary sessions on political and security issues, delegates discussed a wide range of topics relevant to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The plenary considered the ways in which parliamentarians can build the tools of democracy including through initiatives that can enhance citizen engagement and parliamentary outreach to the public, as well as those that can strengthen anti-corruption measures. Interventions also addressed the importance of regional security, including efforts to address transnational crime and end trafficking in persons. Particular attention was paid to the necessity of combatting terrorism in light of the January 2016 attacks in Jakarta, Indonesia. Noting that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) had announced that it had conducted a fourth nuclear test on 6 January 2016, delegates also emphasized the importance of achieving denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
In the plenary sessions on economic and trade issues, discussions focused on regional efforts targeting the expansion of trade, investment and sustainable development. Cognizant that the global economic recovery remains uneven, delegates emphasized the need for further efforts to ensure that the benefits of global trade and economic development ate inclusive, reaching the broadest possible range of countries, communities, and people. Another common theme was the optimization of global value chains, not only with respect to trade in merchandise, but also services. Measures that were highlighted as key building blocks included those targeting the integration of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises and the enhancement of connectivity and innovation, including through public and private investment in infrastructure.
In the plenary sessions on regional cooperation, delegates articulated their long-term vision for sustainable development in the region and the steps necessary for the realization of those objectives. Themes that were addressed included those pertinent to economic and social affairs - youth prosperity, employment and education - and those focused on societal and environmental resilience, including with respect to the prevention and recovery from disasters and crises and the protection of wildlife and marine ecosystems. These discussions were anchored by the recently adopted United Nations 2030, Agenda for Sustainable Development. As the APPF is an inter-parliamentary forum, delegates drew attention to the role of parliamentarians in the national implementation and monitoring of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets.
Throughout the Annual Meeting, the members of the Drafting Committee carefully considered the many draft resolutions that had been submitted by APPF member countries, which culminated in the Committee's referral of draft resolutions to the plenary for review, approval and adoption. T11e Drafting Committee's work was greatly facilitated by the constructive engagement of delegates in six Working Groups oriented around the following themes: peace and security; terrorism and transnational crime; economy and trade; innovation, infrastructure and connectivity; tools of democracy; and, disasters and crises.
The 24th Annual Meeting of the APPF adopted the 27 resolutions. They are all available on the official website of the 24th Annual Meeting.
In the final plenary session, the participants discussed the work and activities of the APPF as an institution, including with respect to the APPF Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, which had been held for the first time in Vancouver. Throughout the week's proceedings, delegates emphasized the success of that inaugural meeting, and their support for its continuation at future APPF Annual Meetings, a matter that they agreed should be addressed in greater detail by the APPF Executive Committee. Delegates also welcomed confirmation that the 25th Annual Meeting of the APPF will be hosted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Fiji in January 2017.
In his concluding remarks, the President of the 24th Annual Meeting, Senator Plett, congratulated the delegates and commended them for their important contributions to the plenary sessions, Working Groups and Drafting Committee, thus ensuring a productive, cooperative and inclusive Annual Meeting.
All delegates wish to thank the Parliament of Canada for hosting this 24th Annual Meeting and express appreciation for the kind hospitality extended to all of us in the beautiful city of Vancouver.
Signed in Vancouver, Canada on 20 January 2016.