2018 SCE FORA REPORT: Group of Friends on Disability (GOFD)

1. Main progress and achievements of 2018

The APEC Group of Friends on Disability (GOFD) is a Group that was established in 2015 during SOM2 and its Terms of Reference (TOR) was approved by SCE3-2015. In 2018 the GOFD goes on implementing its mandate. GOFD makes efforts on Integration of Disability issues across APEC sub-fora, facilitating the participation of Persons with Disability in the internet economy, advancing employment for persons with disabilities in APEC economies and underscoring the necessity of strengthening coordination among and across fora.

In the early half of 2018, GOFD has held the 4th annual meeting, a symposium with the theme of "Remove Barriers-Make Rights Real, An Investment for Persons with Disabilities in a Digital Age," and a ceremony that marks the official launching of the Cross-border E-commerce Platform for Assistive Technology, an outcome of the GOFD project. Besides GOFD members, representatives from other APEC fora and disability organizations, as well as distinguished guests, including Madam Lynda Babao O'Neil, Spouse of the Prime Minister of PNG, also joined and honoured the above events.

The two self-funded projects submitted by China in 2016 have achieved early gains. (1) For the project Promoting Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Economic Activities (GOFD 01 2016S): after the first e-commerce training held in 2016, China will hold a second training in China in the fourth quarter of 2018. The preparations are in progress and participants recruitment will soon begin. The Policy Research on Advancing Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Internet Economy in the Asia-Pacific Region has been finalized and submitted to the SCE for information. During the 4th GOFD meeting in May, the report was presented and discussed. (2) For the project Assistive Devices +Internet Cross-Border E-Commerce Platform (GOFD 02 2016S): the platform has been put into use after a launching ceremony held during SOM2. It is seeking broader partnership and under continuous adjustment and improvement. (3) Additionally, the self-funded project "Promoting the Employment of Persons with Disabilities in APEC" submitted by the US in the HRDWG as a cross-fora collaboration with GOFD has been accomplished. The key findings were presented at the 4th GOFD Meeting.

After the Meeting, two concept notes have been submitted, one by China on Internet+ training for persons with disabilities and the other by Papua New Guinea on reasonable accommodation of persons with disabilities.


2. Recommendations to SCE/SOM

Report on "Advancing Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Internet Economy in the Asia-Pacific Region" has been submitted to the SCE in 2017.

Section I: Main Outcome of Plenary Meetings

Plenary Meeting

The 4th Meeting of APEC Group of Friends on Disability (GOFD) was held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on May 19, 2018. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. You Liang, Chair of GOFD and Ms.Sliviak, Second Vice Chair of GOFD.

Representatives of 15 APEC economies, namely Australia, Brunei, Chile, the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam attended the meeting, along with Madam Lynda Babao O'Neil, Spouse of the Prime Minister of PNG, Hon. Soroi Eoe, Minister for Youth Religion and Community Development of PNG, Anna Solomon, Secretary for Department for Community Development and Religion of PNG, Mary Morola, Secretary of Department of Labour and Industrial Relations of PNG and Coordinator of HRDWG LSPN, and Pham Hoang Tung, Program Director, representative of the APEC Secretariat.

Major Items:

1. Hon. Minister Soroi Eoe delivered an opening speech and encouraged APEC economies to work together to ensure persons with disabilities are included in all sectors.

2. The Cross-border E-commerce Platform for Assistive Technology, an outcome of GOFD project, was officially launched under the witness of Madame Lynda Babao, Minister Soroi, Ambassador Xue Bing, Mr. Tung, and GOFD members.

3. The agenda of the meeting and minutes of 2017 GOFD meeting were discussed and adopted.

4. SOM Chair Office representative, Ms. Marrie from PNG APEC Secretariat introduced the Priorities of APEC 2018.

5. The APEC Secretariat presented update reports on APEC Project Session 2 and Governance Improvement for a more effective APEC.

6. China updated progress on two self-funded projects, elaborated on China's efforts and experience in advancing disability affairs, and announced an e-commerce related vocational training to be held in China in the fourth quarter of 2018.

7. The U.S. presented on the project "Advancing Employment for Persons with Disabilities in APEC," briefing its key findings and recommendations.

8. Department of Labour and Industrial Relations, PNG presented on good practices to promote the participation of persons with disabilities in economy and highlighted the importance of cross-fora collaboration.

9. PNG introduced the topic on promoting youths and senior citizens with disabilities for open discussion.

10. Russia shared Best Practice in Public Transport, State Information System for register and database, and initiatives on Statistics, Budgetary Support and Social Protection.

11. Thailand shared best practice in taking care of persons with disabilities.

12. Chinese Taipei shared on Employment Promotion practices for PWDs and Implementation of UNCRPD.

13. Viet Nam shared on Legal framework for education and employment for 7 million PWDs.

14. Ms Caitlin Wilson from TELIKOM PNG shared on 4 key roles in support to disability and stressed digitalized economy and technology should include persons with disabilities.

15. Mr. Frederick Tamarua, PPWE representative presented on Cross-Fora Collaboration on women with disabilities

16. A draft symposium outcome statement was shared for inputs and comments from the economies. It is to be decided intersessionally whether the document will be presented as an Outcome Statement or as a Chair's Report.

17. PNG presented the Project Proposal for period 2018 to 2019 titled "Applying Best Practices of Reasonable Accommodation of Persons with Disabilities Across the APEC Region." The proposal was co-sponsored by the United States, China, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.

18. PNG presented its proposal for the development of GOFD individual action plans.

19. Regarding the future status of the GOFD when its mandate expires by the end of 2018, the United States suggested transforming GOFD into a Friend of the Chair affiliated to HRDWG while China, PNG, Russia, and Hong Kong, China expressed support for extending the GOFD mandate and maintain its current status as a fora under the SCE. Member economies agreed this issue would be discussed and a solution sought intersessionally via email.

20. The Group of Friends on Disability discussed the potential for a 5th Meeting be convened in Chile in 2019.

A symposium was held before the 4th GOFD meeting as its side event. During the symposium, representatives of GOFD members, distinguished guests, speakers from UN ESCAP and disability organizations had in-depth discussion on the disability affairs in the Asia-Pacific region. Papua New Guinea proposed an Individual Action Plan for the sustainable development of GOFD.