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APEC University Leaders’ Forum 2022 Successfully Concludes with High-level Discussions on Preparing for the Next Pandemic


The highly-anticipated side event of the APEC CEO Summit saw university presidents and policy-makers promote global partnerships for achieving effective research and future-proof strategies.

(18 November, 2022 – HONG KONG) – Business leaders, policy makers, and university presidents from APRU, a network of 60 leading research universities from 19 economies around the APEC region, convened at the Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, on 16 November for the APEC University Leaders’ Forum (AULF) 2022, under the theme: “Preventing the Next Pandemic.”

As a selected side event of the APEC CEO Summit held this year in Thailand, the forum offered a rare opportunity for global leadership to gather and implement a plan through collaboration across sectors, institutions, and continents.

After the world had experienced nearly three years of disruption due to Covid-19, this year’s AULF provided a much-needed platform for influential figures in politics, business, and higher education to gather and discuss ways to enhance global resilience should another pandemic happen.

More than 20 high-profile speakers from the Asia-Pacific region came together to share their views on building joint research, strategies, and policies, including Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn, President of Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and Prof. Gene D. Block, Chair of APRU and Chancellor of UCLA. Both gave welcome remarks at the opening ceremony.

Prof. Gene D. Block,
Chair of APRU and Chancellor of UCLA

Chancellor Block said it was crucial for academic, business, and political leaders to convene at AULF 2022 to discuss ways to create a more robust, resourceful, and responsive world in the future.

“On behalf of APRU, I am delighted to welcome distinguished guests, speakers, and participants from the Asia-Pacific region to the APRU APEC University Leaders’ Forum 2022. This year’s theme could not be more timely for our world, which has undergone nearly three years of profound changes due to the effects of Covid-19.”

He continued: “The forum is a critical opportunity for leaders to come together across sectors and geographies to share views, strategies, and technologies that will strengthen our collective capacity to deal with another pandemic.”

Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn
President of Chulalongkorn University

Prof. Bundhit Eua-arporn, President of Chulalongkorn University, said: “It has been our pleasure at Chulalongkorn University to bring together top minds in the Asia-Pacific region for talks and exchanges that would benefit citizens around the world. Chulalongkorn believes in the power of partnerships and is firmly committed to working with other institutes, APRU, and leaders to make progress on our common objectives.”

His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha,
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand delivered the keynote address entitled “Preventing the Next Pandemic – The Global Partnership Agenda: Government, Business and Research University.”  In his speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged how this academic conference collaborates to the economic dimension of APEC.  It also provides a forum for exchanging knowledge and expertise in order to ensure that we are well-prepared for the new challenges we shall face as well as to be driven toward economic growth and restoration in a stable and durable manner which is a crucial point that has led Thailand to hosting APEC 2022 with its key concepts of “Open.  Connect.  Balance.”  Moreover, the conference has extended its focus to include scientific and technological development along with producing research to improve new forms of knowledge especially in the subjects of medicine and public health in the area of biomedical research,therapeutics and development of medical technology that are ready to cope with emerging disaeases.  It is also our hope that research works will be fully beneficial to the people. 

Gen. Prayut also said that the recent public health crisis has shown us that accurate information and the manner in which they are disseminated is a key in ensuring confidence among the people in our societies.  As such, the educational sector has played an important role in providing information backed by sound academic research.  We have also learned that interdependence and collaboration are integral in steering our countries out of those critical situations.  As one of the countries that has received commendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international community for the policies it implemented and the measures used in putting COVID-19 under control together while providing care for the people, Thailand was selected by the WHO to host the “Universal Health and Preparedness Review (UHPR) pilot program.” We are proud that this success came about as a result of the excellent cooperation gained from all sectors along with the determination to achieve continuous exchange of everything from knowledge to technology, medicines, vaccines and medical supplies with other countries.    

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha also expressed his appreciation to Chulalongkorn University and the education sector which extended their cooperation with the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to contribute “innovations for society” by employing research studies and developing them to ensure their actual use at a time of crisis.  The country owes much of its success in handling the pandemic with its policy for universal healthcare system and its readiness in terms of medical supplies and equipment along with the connectivity of knowledge in public health with other countries of the world while also seeing to it that its capability for scientific, medical and public health research both nationally and internationally, is promoted.  There is also the need to enhance the capabilities of our personnel and to assure them that they have access to modern medical equipment for their use.

He expressed his hope that this conference would prove to be a turning point in the fostering of academic collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region that engenders development in all aspects with technology and innovation as a significant basis.  This would make it possible for all nations in this region to achieve prosperity in a balanced and enduring manner. 

Other forum highlights consisted of three thought-provoking panel discussions, which explored ways to foster collaborative efforts in researching, strategy-setting, and handling misinformation.

The first session, titled “Partnering on Biomedical Research,” saw leaders from different sectors exchange ideas on improving biomedical responses, such as manufacturing and distributing biomedical and therapeutic assets effectively, in the state of global emergency.

Panelists then focused on the socio-cultural aspect of a pandemic in the second session, titled “Partnering on Effective Socio-cultural Strategies,” which addressed opportunities and challenges in imposing public health strategies in a diverse yet connected world.

The last session touched upon a topic at the heart of a digitalized world. Under the theme of “Partnering on Combatting the Infodemic,” panelists assessed the role false and misleading information plays in a pandemic and the urgency for countries to tackle the phenomenon as a team.

Prof. Rocky S. Tuan, APRU Vice Chair and Vice-Chancellor and President of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, underlined the urgency of promoting and facilitating cooperation in biomedical research in Asia-Pacific and beyond.

He noted: “Although most of the world is emerging from the full shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, our shared experience over the past three years has enabled us to see the importance of working together as a team that combines governments, industry, academia, NGOs and the community, to address a global health crisis, especially in researching, manufacturing, assembling and distributing medical biomedical and therapeutic resources.”

Prof. Deborah Terry, Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of Queensland, Australia, emphasized the importance of assessing sociocultural factors while formulating strategies for the future.

She said: “Asia-Pacific is one of the most socially and culturally diverse regions worldwide. Assessing the role that socio-cultural context plays in different communities across the region, particularly in the face of a global medical emergency, is essential in ensuring that we can draw future-proof plans in a just, fair, and all-inclusive way.”

Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice-Chancellor of Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, New Zealand, explained her thoughts on infodemic.

“Our world is more connected than ever. In this digital age, information is passed on and shared within milliseconds across borders, languages, and faiths,” she said. “Combating misinformation and disinformation will be vital to implement public health measures effectively. In this context, regional and international collaborations are paramount for achieving the goal.”  

For more information on APRU and its events, please visit

Chula’s encouragement and support for research is excellent for teachers, students, and the public.

Associate Professor Dr. Suchana Chavanich Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University

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