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5 things to watch out for at APEC 2021

We’ve been banging the drum for a little while now: After many years of careful planning and negotiating, New Zealand’s APEC host year has finally arrived!

Here is a list – in no particular order – of five things to watch out for during this once-in-a-generation event for New Zealand.

Digital diplomacy is front and centre during New Zealand's host year.

1. The evolution of digital diplomacy

From backgrounds to virtual experiences and the nuances of chairing a digital meeting – the digital diplomacy space is moving fast. 2021 will be a huge year in this area. With the knowledge that all APEC 2021 meetings will be run virtually, we are investing a lot of brainpower into how a virtual experience can be smooth, engaging and productive. Stay tuned for lessons learned…

Te Atiawa perform the wero (challenge), at the pōwhiri at Te Wharewaka.

2. Taking tikanga virtual

Taking tikanga (Māori protocols) virtual and creating an authentic Māori experience for delegates is an innovation for APEC New Zealand. Welcoming delegates in a Māori way was an important start to our virtual host year - our first step was taking a one-hour physical pōwhiri, led by Te Ati Awa with local APEC economy representatives on December 2. The video captured from this day was used to welcome delegates to the first meeting hosted by New Zealand, the Informal Senior Officials' Meeting. You can watch the video here, and read more about the pōwhiri here

Throughout our hosting we will test new ways of delivering a virtual Māori experience and we plan to leave a solid legacy for future online events in Aotearoa. Stay tuned to hear more in 2021!

APEC Leaders at the APEC 2020 Leaders’ Meeting, hosted by Malaysia.

3. Leaders' Week

This is always the big ticket event at the end of the year: A week bringing together ministers and leaders from each of the 21 economies. Leaders' Week is where final statements are released, and leaders reaffirm their commitment to APEC. It’s about building on the good work of previous hosts to raise ambitions and deliver outcomes for the APEC region.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks with Brad Smith, Microsoft President during Malaysia’s CEO Dialogues, a reimagined CEO Summit given the COVID-19 health pandemic.

4. The CEO Summit

The APEC CEO Summit is one of the Asia Pacific’s premier business forums, attracting influential CEOs from some of the largest companies in the region. So the opportunity to connect NZ businesses with this forum is very good indeed. This will be a huge opportunity for business, so watch this space for more info in 2021.

APEC Leaders meeting in the Philippines, in 2015. They are wearing the “Barong Tagalog” – made from pineapple fiber and silk.

5. The APEC fashion 

There is a long-held tradition at APEC Leaders' Week for leaders to don the host economy’s pick of clothing in a show of unity. (Check out the leaders’ shirts from 2006 – 2017 in this handy article).

What will leaders wear in November 2021? The tradition unites all APEC economies for one end of year family photo and if you’re looking to start a sweepstake in 2021 this would be a good one to start.

Could it be a Black Ferns jersey, All Blacks jersey, or a Korowai?

We can't wait to see what lies ahead in 2021.