APEC Voices of the Future

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Founded in 2007, APEC Voices of the Future is a youth meeting for exchanges among young students from each economy held concurrently with the APEC Summit, aiming to let young students know more about APEC, expand their horizons, stimulate their enthusiasm for taking on the roles of leaders, and promote in-depth cultural exchanges among countries.

Australia through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award nominated 5 participants (4 youth participants and 1 educator) to represent Australia at APEC Voices of the Future Youth Forum 2015. Over 7 days, delegates attend numerous events and collaborated with other youth, political leaders, and business magnates.


  • Provide a platform for interaction and networking for youth from the APEC 21 Economies to encourage mutual understanding and cooperation;
  • Encourage the active participation of young people on APEC-related issues and policies;
  • Cultivate a deeper appreciation of APEC and its work in the 21 economies;
  • Provide learning opportunities for youth to interact with APEC leaders and business leaders; and
  • Prepare future leaders of APEC economies.


Theme:  Each year there is a different theme with 2015 being “Building a Sustainable Future: Inclusive Growth, Resilience, Empowerment”
Participants: Approximately 120 delegates from 21 APEC Economies (100 foreign delegates, 20 delegates from the Host Economy,)
Participating Economies: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States of America and Vietnam.
Organized by: Voices Leadership Council, National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Council Singapore.


Australia through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award nominated 5 participants (4 youth participants and 1 educator) to represent Australia at APEC Voices of the Future Youth Forum in November 2015

  • Miguel Vera-Cruz

    Miguel Vera-Cruz photo

    Miguel is currently undertaking his Gold Award, and is in his 6th year of a Bachelor of International Studies (International Business) and a Bachelor of Laws. He recently represented Australia in the Asia-Europe Foundation’s (ASEF) Students Forum in Hangzhou. He has visited 13 countries to date and won the Hong Kong Government Scholarship to write blog posts on Hong Kong twice weekly during his exchange. One of his most notable achievements is his role as Student Caller for the UNSW Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship Appeal Feb-Jul 2012 in which he helped raise $500,000 for Scholarship funds for university students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Ben Galea

    Ben Galea photo

    Benjamin is a Bronze Duke of Ed Awardee, and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts (major in Developmental Studies, and minor in Sustainable Development), and a Bachelor of Science (major in Natural Resource Management, and minor in Earth and Marine Science). Benjamin is also a Queensland Youth Strategy Ambassador, volunteering and participating as part of the Qld Governments Youth Strategy. In addition, Benjamin has been actively involved in the rural and indigenous communities, and a member of the selection committee for the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) Heywire Innovation Grants for 2015.

  • Madelin Strupitis-Haddrick

    Madelin photo

    Madelin is a Gold Duke of Ed Awardee, and is in her first year of a Bachelor of International and Global Studies. She has 6 years of involvement in public speaking, debating and ‘Justice & Democracy’ society at Brigidine College, and was the Brigidine Debating Captain in 2013. She was a key organiser of World Vision 40-hour famine at Brigidine College 2012, and was consequently shortlisted for the position of World Vision Youth Ambassador 2013. She has been a member of the OLPS Church Music Ministry for the past 8 years, also volunteering for Lifeline (2013) and the St Vincent de Paul Society (2010-2011).

  • Sophie Walter

    Headshot Sophie Walter2

    Sophie is a Gold Duke of Ed Awardee, and has been a school leader for Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award participants. She has also been a Youth Consultant at KYDS (Ku-ring-gai Youth Development Service), 2011-2014, devising policies, procedures and programs for marginalized youth, and has written several publications, including an article on KYDS service in Australasian Psychiatry (a peer reviewed publication). In addition, Sophie was invited to speak at the 2014 International Women’s Day at an event hosted by the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association of Australia (PPSEAWA), and presented on “The Rights of the Child”, Annual Janusz Korckzak Commemoration, Sydney Jewish Museum. Through her involvement in the community, Sophie has been recognised with an Order of Australia Association 2014 John Lincoln Youth Community Service Awards, and an Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership and Teamwork Award.

  • Ruth Parsons

    Ruth is a Gold Duke of Ed Awardee, and is in her second year of study completing a multidisciplinary degree of Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Policy Studies. Ruth has a keen interest in economics as a science, particularly in combination with other disciplines that influence economic decision-making and outcomes. She has worked full time for 6 months at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, an organisation aiming to promote healing and growth in Australian Indigenous communities. She has also been a participant in UN Youth Conferences, and is a recipient of the Australian National University Centenary Scholarship. She also produced a peer reviewed publication in an undergraduate academic journal ‘Cross Sections’.


apec groupDay 1: The Australian delegates arrived in Manila to be greeted with a warm welcome from the Filipino people. The group then joined their fellow APEC delegates from Japan, the Philippines, and Chinese Taipei for a dinner filled with engaging conversations on the summit and relevant issues affecting young people.

Day 2: The first official day of the Forum program took the APEC youth representatives to the Asian Development Bank for the opening session which focused on improving their understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals and the sharing and development of ideas on how they as youth could promote progress on these. Following this, they had the privilege of being joined by key leaders and members of ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council), with the opportunity to meet influential business magnate Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

Day 3:APEC 2015 Group Photo The APEC Voices of the Future 2015 Opening Ceremony was welcomed by Mr James Soh, Co-Chair of the APEC Voices Leadership Council, and Mr Richard Bolt of the Asian Development Bank, with addresses from H.E Cesar Purisima, Secretary of Finance, Republic of the Philippines and H.E. Philip Goldberg, US Ambassador to the Philippines. Mr Noel Gould, Co-Chair of the APEC Voices Leadership Council, spoke on how youth can contribute to building sustainable and resilient communities. The delegates were then introduced to ‘Youth4Asia’, an initiative of the Asian Development Bank. Youth4Asia, among other projects, facilitates a competition that encourages youths to design and implement creative solutions to current needs.

Day 4: The group visit Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. The delegates also got the chance to experience different social enterprise demos, where the entrepreneurs explained and demonstrated how the products are made. Some of them even got to try making these products themselves.

Day obama5: The Australian delegation joined the other Voices delegates, business leaders and CEOs for the commencement of the APEC CEO Summit. President Benito Aquino III opened the summit by speaking about the importance of inclusive growth and how his anti-corruption, economically focused government has aimed to promote this. The second summit session featured a panel discussing the current geopolitical and economic situation in the world. The mix of perspectives from business, government and geopolitical analytics gave the delegates present an enhanced appreciation of the interconnectedness of international affairs, with a particularly interesting insight being the Asia-Pacific’s relative international political stability enticing greater investment.

Day 6: The youth delegates formed two groups, with each attending the APEC CEO Summit 2015 and the SME Summit. A highlight from the CEO Summit was a panel discussion on building better cities. There was one Australian representative was on the panel – Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne. Mr Doyle discussed a significant challenge for our future cities; conclosing ceremonynecting federal, state, local and private entities to build infrastructure.

Day 7: President Obama’s address framed the discussion of protecting the environment and sustainability, highlighting the key roles measures that young business leader can undertake. The youth educators signed off the Youth Declaration. The themes in the Declaration included:

  • Environment and sustainability
  • Empowering Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) through possible tax deductions, and enabling them in E-commerce
  • Education and capacity building

The opportunity for the group to workshop through their ideas and synergise with other delegates, enhanced their understanding of natural resource management, and its impact on global businesses. The APEC 2015 Voices program concluded with a night of celebration.


Miguel Vera-Cruz photo“As an Australian leader, this was a time for me to progress the ideal that Australia is a nation that gives everyone, no matter where they come from, a fair go; and to symbolise the diversity, the multiculturalism, the harmony that Australia continues to strive for.”

Miguel Vera-Cruz



sophie madelin and ruth
Sophie, Madelin and Ruth at APEC 2015

 “The array of speakers opened a door to the world of innovation and ideas to which I and the other Australian youth ambassadors had not been exposed. A personal favourite was an address by Sheila Marcelo, Founder and CEO of Care.com, who tackled the topic, ‘Building a caring and sharing economy’.”

Sophie Walter

“Passionate about promoting these goals through action, the youth delegates were fortunate the following day to receive first-hand insight into social entrepreneurship through a visit to Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm. We were inspired by this social movement’s collaborative, sustainable and innovative focus in bringing ‘the best from the West and the genius from the East to bring out the genius of the least’.”

Madelin Rose Strupitis-Haddrick


 “This [APEC CEO Summit and the APEC SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) Summit] was a fantastic opportunity to interact with and learn from key policymakers, business leaders and youth delegates from the Asia-Pacific region. A notable event was a panel discussion, facilitated by the United States President Barack Obama, between business magnate and founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, and engineer, Aisa Mejino…”

Ruth Parsons

APEC 2016

Will be held from 4 – 20 Nov 2016 in Lima, Peru

Applications will be available through the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award- Australia form October onwards. This site will be updated once applications for 2016 are open.