On 19 November, in a special dedicated session, the 29th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, adopted the Bangkok Goals on the Bio-Circular-Green Economy ("BGBCGE"). Its core objective is to build "open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040." The Declaration was supported both by the US (here) and China (here and here).
The BGBCGE are action oriented in the sense of providing somewhat more concrete descriptions of public sector aspirations for managing global economic activity as a function of a specific understanding of environmental, development, and resource management principles. Like many of these documents, the critical importance of BGBCGE centers on a signalling of consensus among important public regulatory bodies, at least at a high level of generality, and also of signaling the importance of these objectives in shaping global macro- (and in this case administratively directed) micro-economic regulatory policies that can have significant effects on markets.
Those significant effects are external. The implementation of BGBCGE goals can serve as a basis for coordinated programs of price disincentives (a markets driven regulatory approach). It can also serve as a macro device for identifying subsidized market sectors (renewables, recycling ) as well as market sectors that can be taxed or progressively prohibited (non-electric cars). This continues programs of rewards and punishments that serve to manage markets through pricing and prohibition/encouragement regimes. The focus here would be on managing consumer and stakeholder choice through markets (pricing or products and capital), and public central planning (management of product access to markets, standardization, and subsidy penalty programs). BGBCGE goals are also internal. In that sense they provide a framework for structuring compliance and governance frameworks that can be administered by state organs and effectively delegated to enterprises (which continue to be utilized as privatized administrative agencies). But BGBCGE can also effectively provide a policy and regulatory framework for reshaping the micro-economics of firms. Disclosure and monitoring regimes, transparency about products and product components, can serve that purpose; so can mandatory sustainability due diligence measures. More importantly for longer term embedding could be reform of accounting and auditing protocols that can internalize key use parameters into the pricing of production (or more simply perhaps) through taxation on production methods that fail to meet regulatory goals. Eliminating the cost externalization issue is a key element of micro-regulation within firms as important as the flashier regulatory measures on and through markets or the even splashier efforts to ban markets in certain products or technologies.
The structure of Bangkok Goals on the Bio-Circular-Green Economy is straightforward. The first three paragraphs summarize the foundation on which BGBCGE is built. The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 is reaffirmed. These serve as the baseline against which policy choices built into BGBCGE can be constructed. The three core elements of Putrajaya Vision 2040 are these: (1) "to deliver, a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment," (2) "to empower all our people and businesses to participate and grow in an interconnected global economy, we will foster an enabling environment that is, among others, market-driven and supported by digital economy and innovation," and (3) to "foster quality growth that brings palpable benefits and greater health and wellbeing to all, including MSMEs, women and others with untapped economic potential." The second also references the specific commitments in Vision 2040 as well as in the detailed Aotearoa Plan of Action. The third articulates the "value added" of BGBCGE: "explor[ing] approaches such as bio-circular-green (BCG) economy model that integrates three economic approaches, where technology and innovation are used to create value,
reduce waste, advance resource efficiency, and promote sustainable
business models" (BGBCGE).
The substantive core of BGBCGE can be found in its fourth paragraph.The foundation for action under BGBCGE are APEC’s existing targets and workstreams to work toward four goals: (1)Supporting global efforts to comprehensively address all environmental challenges, including climate change, extreme weather and natural disasters, for a sustainable planet, particularly in terms of climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience, (2) Progressing sustainable and inclusive trade and investment and ensuring that they are mutually supportive with our environmental policies, (3) Promoting environmental conservation, sustainable use and management of natural resources, as well as halting and reversing biodiversity loss, and (4) Advancing resource efficiency and sustainable waste management towards zero waste. The comprehensiveness of public intervention is quite broad., Effectively it provides a roadmap for the transformation of the economic sector of global production that cab be undertaken in one of two ways. The first is through a comprehensive system of markets driven interventions that create systems of punishments and rewards to redefine markets, and market behavior expectations. The public sector provides the vessel within which what is favored may be enhanced, and what is not can be identified and corrected. The second is through a comprehensive regulatory model in which the transformation of the economic sector is undertaken under the direction and through the managed supervision of state authorities. These can be implemented through traditional law structures that may morph into the next generation forms of central planning, or they may produce a system data driven public governance. In both cases AI enhanced modeling with be a likely adjunct development. And both will produce challenges to the traditional operation of domestic legal orders and constitutional systems.
Paragraph 5 adds social justice objectives as an overlay (or a factor) in attaining the specific aspirational goals and actions specified in Paragraph 4. These include " requires the adoption of an inclusive approach that improves the quality of life for all members of society and advances gender equality as well as economic inclusion and empowerment of MSMEs, women, and other groups with untapped economic potential, such as Indigenous Peoples as appropriate, people with disabilities, and those from remote and rural communities, while also promoting the role of youth."
Paragraph 6 then focuses on regulatory approaches. The approaches seek to blend the distinct political-economic structures of member states and development disparities (and thus priorities) among them. Again these are divided into 4 parts. The first focuses on traditional regulatory mechanisms ("Conducive and agile regulatory frameworks and enabling business environment, including through structural reform, good regulatory practices and international regulatory cooperation"). The second touches on capacity building. Here the focus is on public and private capacity that includes tech transfer ("by deepening economic and technical cooperation, exchange of experiences
and best practices to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth,
voluntary technology transfer on mutually agreed terms, as well as
inclusive human resource development, especially reskilling and
upskilling to boost recruitment, retention and promotion of a diverse
workforce"). The third focuses on infrastructure ("development of quality infrastructure, financing and investment, as well as further leveraging science, technology, innovation and digitalisation"). The last focuses on public-private network governance. Here one speaks of the proper exploitation of social forces bent to the realization of the objectives of BGBCGE ("collaboration among public sector, private sector, financial sector,
academia, other international and regional organisations, other relevant
Paragraph 7 then instructs APEC's Secretariat to maintain an evergreen compendium of the actions and initiatives taken and to provide regular updates.
All of this, of course, will have to be read against the declarations and agreements which are now being forged in the COP27 Climate Summit (In a Reversal, the U.S. Agrees to Climate Payments for Poor Nations; "Even if negotiators from nearly 200 countries who are gathered in Egypt
do agree in principle for funding on “loss and damage,” as the issue is
known, huge hurdles remain.").
The text of the Bangkok Goals on the Bio-Circular-Green Economy as well as the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the Aotearoa Plan of Action follow below with links to their on line sources.