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Major Development Learning Conference Gives Strong Support To Regional Needs

21 Nov 2003

The 7th Regional Meeting of the Global Development Learning Network - East Asia and the Pacific Association (GDLN-EAPA) concluded today after three days of high-level discussion with representatives of regional organizations, the private sector, government and academia. The Meeting, opened on Tuesday, 18 November, 2003 by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Lim Siong Guan, was attended by about 100 participants from 25 countries, including representatives of Development Learning Networks in Europe, Central Asia, the United States and Latin America. The next meeting of the EAPA will be in Shanghai. Please see Annex A for more details on the GDLN.

2 "The message out of this meeting is clear: the GDLN is a vital technology linking people in Asia and the Pacific, for training, for discussion, for problem solving, and for business purposes. It has achieved a great deal in the past three years, but the unmet needs are huge, and we will be redoubling our efforts to serve the region as it grows and changes.

"We look forward in particular to working more closely with ASEAN and APEC and other regional organizations to support the training and development needs of people in the Asia-Pacific region and to facilitate and enhance a dialogue on key development issues among practitioners and stakeholders. It was striking to me how similar our concerns and agendas are in so many ways. By working together and exploring areas of mutual opportunity, I am sure we will all be more effective in leveraging this technology and the community of like-minded organizations with a commitment to supporting broad based economic and social development in the region," said Mr. Jeffrey Gutman, the World Bank Director for Strategy and Operations in East Asia and Pacific.

3 The Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, Ambassador Piamsak Milintachinda, told the EAPA Conference that APEC's objective was simple:"to play our part in improving the lives of these 2.5 billion people who live in the Asia-Pacific region." Ambassador Piamsak proposed a number of areas of closer collaboration between APEC and the World Bank using the GDLN, including support to microenterprises, training and capacity-building, and focusing on growing needs for skill-building in such areas as port security and aviation security. The two organizations agreed to begin work immediately on the proposed initiatives, with a view to building a broader and more comprehensive joint work program in the years ahead.

4 The Deputy Secretary General of the ASEAN Secretariat, Dr Wilfrido Villacorta, underscored the potential for closer collaboration, and suggested that the GDLN could be used to provide more in-depth economic briefings to member countries, and also to support joint ASEAN-World Bank efforts to assist young people in the region.

5 "Across all sectors, we heard that the GDLN is becoming more relevant. This came through in all presentations and discussions, whether it was the invitation to work with a prestigious academic group such as the Institute for South East Asian Studies (ISEAS), or with an entrepreneurial group such as Singapore Education International; whether it was the strong encouragement from the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce or the powerful words of Permanent Secretary Lim linking the GDLN to Singapore's efforts to support regional development.

The task for us now is to take this positive feedback and turn it into a more broad-based and inclusive network operation, in such a way that the resources of these groups meet the needs and expectations of the region. It is quite a challenge, but an exciting one. We look forward with considerable optimism to working on this agenda with Singapore between now and 2006, when the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings will be held here," added Mr Gutman.

6 Mr Gutman also thanked the Ministry of Finance for its consistent support for the GDLN, both in providing a Distance Learning Center in Singapore and in strengthening the knowledge base through the new involvement of Nanyang Polytechnic.