Human security should be enhanced to ensure sustained economic growth, higher living standards and reduction of poverty in the Asia-Pacific region, APEC ministers said Thursday.
Natural disasters, terrorist activities and pandemic diseases, such as bird flu, have the potential to undermine the efforts for economic development and better life, said the foreign and trade ministers in a joint statement at the end of their annual meeting.
They were preparing for the 15th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting, slated for Saturday and Sunday.
They called for information sharing, food supply protection, trade security and better communication in joint efforts to fight against terrorism.
On natural disaster, the statement said that strengthening emergency preparedness is an abiding priority for APEC. "We welcomed new initiatives to further cooperation between our senior emergency and disaster management officials, business and international partners to ensure we are able to respond in a timely and effective manner," it said.
On the health issue, the ministers reaffirmed their support for full implementation by member economies of the International Health Regulations to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease.
They endorsed the APEC Functioning Economies in Times of Pandemic Guidelines. The guidelines will help improve regional capacity for appropriate emergency management and response planning.
They committed to enhance cooperation within APEC and move towards the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.
The ministers also noted that there is a need to cooperate and improve the current standards and practices and strengthen scientific risk-based approaches to food safety and other products to facilitate trade and ensure people's health and safety.
They agreed to establish an APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum, co-chaired by China and Australia, to help harmonize food safety regulations with international standards.
The 21-member regional economic cooperation forum, which was founded in 1989, is holding its annual meetings in Sydney, Australia, on Sept. 2-9.