The 2018 EROPA Conference was formally opened on 17 September 2017 at the Sofitel Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia. The conference was jointly organized by Indonesia's National Institute for Public Administration (NIPA) and the EROPA Secretariat. Distinguished officials and guests from different state governments and other institutions graced the event.
Heads of EROPA state member delegations from the People’s Republic of China, Nepal, and Japan delivered their speeches, welcoming the participants and expressing their gratitude and appreciation to the conference organizers for their preparations for and conduct of the 2018 EROPA Conference.
Delivering his speech on behalf of the Government of Japan, Mr. Shigeru Matsuzaki, President of the Local Autonomy College, reiterated EROPA’s role in improving public administration, leading towards socioeconomic development in the Asia Pacific region. In relation to this goal, Mr. Matsuzaki highlighted the importance of sharing research findings and best practices in addressing today’s public administration challenges. As such, he stressed that the need for annual EROPA conferences to continue as one of the platforms for these sharing exercises; in particular, one of the issues that EROPA members and networks need to discuss is captured, in essence, in the conference theme: “Public Administration in Managing Global Megatrends: People, Public Services, Institutions, and Ethics.” He believed that the said conference will help provide knowledge and inspire public sector innovation.
Meanwhile, Mr. Matsuzaki also mentioned what Local Autonomy College, which houses the EROPA Local Government Center, is doing for EROPA. As he mentioned, the center conducts training activities each year for around 54 years, having produced a total of 625 graduates, of which 252 are from EROPA state members. It also publishes a book of readings, the Comparative Studies on Public Administration, a collection of papers on local governance and public administration from various countries. He assured the support and commitment of the Local Autonomy College to EROPA.
On the other hand, Mr. Li Yu, assistant researcher at the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, acknowledged that economic globalization and rapid technological advancements are making it increasingly challenging for the public sector to cope with complex administrative affairs and additional risk and responsibilities. Hence, governments need to innovate to remain stable and to cope with complex environmental changes. Mr. Yu mentioned that the People’s Republic of China has been actively pushing for reforms along this line, with greater focus on reform and modernization of personnel systems. These include legislating civil service system reforms and ensuring compliance or the degree of the being complimentary with existing laws, deepening reform in personnel system, and advancing state-owned enterprises in accordance with enterprise system requirements.
Mr. Yu stressed that sharing of best practices is important for countries, including China, to learn from and share insights on how to improve administrative systems amid complexity. He said that the EROPA conference could be a good platform for communicating various country experiences on public sector reform in a backdrop of constant flux. He assured that the delegates from China, along with other countries, will actively participate in the conference sessions.
Finally, Mr. Bhupal Baral, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of General Administration, Nepal, remarked that since it became a member of EROPA in 1983, Nepal has already been actively contributing to global initiatives of EROPA to improve public administration and governance in the region. He opined that the continued participation of Nepal in EROPA’s activities reflect its commitment to the principles and aspirations of the organization. Mr. Baral shared that Nepal is the youngest federal democratic republic, created after ten years of long-standing political transformation. That being said, restructuring of political systems and public administration in the country is still underway. As such, he hoped that the Nepali delegation would be able to learn from other states governed by federal systems.
In terms of the conference theme, Mr. Baral pointed out that, indeed, dynamism and complexity present greater challenges to states, but they also present opportunities for reform across sectors, including public administration. In the case of Nepal, the imperative for administrative reform is manifest in the country’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Baral opined that, in this sense, the sharing of experiences and ideas on public sector transformation will greatly help EROPA members and networks, including Nepal, to learn from the public administration experiences of other countries.