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Global and local leaders, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Gov. Jerry Brown, have converged on San Francisco this week in what is said to be the largest diplomatic gathering in California in more than 65 years.
More than 150 meetings spanning a two-week period that began Monday have attracted policymakers to the 23rd annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, conference, which will address issues such as transportation, energy, health, the environment, technology and women’s empowerment.
Some 3,000 delegates from APEC’s 21 member countries, which all have coastlines along the Pacific Ocean, are expected to attend, and the conference marks the largest set of diplomatic meetings held in California since the signing of the United Nations charter in 1945, according to the Bay Area Council, which is hosting the event.
The Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored public policy organization, worked with the White House and the Department of State to plan the meetings.
In a keynote address at the APEC transportation and energy ministers’ meeting this morning, Brown stressed the need to combat global warming and prepare for climate change.
“The crisis gets closer, but many officials in Washington and along the Pacific Rim act as though they can shush it away with silence and diplomatic delay,” Brown said.
In California, Brown has pushed for investing more in renewable energy, efficiency and reduced dependency on fossil fuels–many of the same topics today’s meeting was structured to address, with the goal of promoting economic growth.
Another collection of private-sector experts and public officials are meeting today through Friday at the APEC Women and the Economy Summit, which aims to develop policy recommendations and projects to foster women’s economic participation as well as drive economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Chandra Alexandre, vice president of development for the Bay Area Council, said that although there have been discussions within APEC on the economic empowerment of women, the summit represents an unprecedented focus on the topic.
“The idea of women in the economy had been a part of APEC previously, but not at this level,” Alexandre said.
Alexandre said Clinton “really wanted to raise this conversation to a new level and did so.”
Clinton is credited with prioritizing the topic, and the creation of the dedicated forum for women’s economic empowerment was agreed upon as a meeting of APEC senior officials in May.
Some 65 speakers will address the more than 600 delegates expected to attend the women’s summit, and will touch on the themes of access to finance, access to markets, capacity and skills building, and women’s leadership, Alexandre said.
The discussions will also address innovation, green growth, technology, entrepreneurship and public-private partnerships.
“The goal is to create opportunities for women in the vastly untapped market,” Alexandre said.
Summit speakers include President Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett; UN Under Secretary General Michelle Bachelet; International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde; Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown; and executives from Google, Visa Inc., Cisco Systems, Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson, and Warner Bros.
Patricia Decker, Bay City News