The 2018 EROPA Conference culminated in a Closing Ceremony held at Sofitel Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia on 19 September 2018. The ceremony comes after six parallel sessions held over two days tackled various issues involving people, public services, institutions, and ethics in public administration.
In his synthesis of the conference, Dr. Muhammad Taufiq, Rapporteur General of the EROPA Conference, affirmed the common view of scholars and practitioners of public administration in the Asia Pacific region that public sector management, as well as the embedding of adaptive and innovative mindsets in civil servants, remains a challenge amid the existence of multiple, complex realities—megatrends. He stressed the importance of collective action to support government efforts to address problems associated with these megatrends. In this regard, the government needs to create an enabling environment conducive for stakeholder participation and articulation of policies. This includes creating a brand of public service ethics that aims to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Dr. Taufiq emphasized that leadership and capacity need to be strengthened in public sector institutions for adaptation and innovation to bear fruit.
Meanwhile, state member representatives of the EROPA delivered their congratulatory speeches. Assistant Commissioner David E. Cabanag, Jr. of the Philippine Civil Service Commission acknowledged that, through the papers and presentations of the academics and practitioners in the region, the narrative of public administration and governance has further elevated collaboration among governments. These partnerships, he added, would be useful in transforming institutions into ones that possess strong public accountability. Dr. Vu Thanh Zuan of the National Academy of Public Administration, Vietnam, remarked that, in the process of administration and development, nations are facing an emerging challenge, that is, how to eliminate old habits and practices to carry out reforms in the context of global megatrends. He thus viewed the conference as a timely opportunity to discuss new approaches that would help public organizations become more adaptive and reflexive. Dr. Achakorn Wongpreedee, Associate Professor of the National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand, expressed his appreciation for the conference organizers and participants for making the conference a success. He considered the attendance of the participants and guests as a manifestation of commitment to address global megatrends through public administration approaches. He said that the outcomes of the conference will definitely play a critical role in developing public sector reforms in state governments. Lastly, Mr. Youk Bunna, who represented Minister Pech Bunthin of the Ministry of Civil Service, Cambodia, explained that the nature and scope of this year’s conference mainly reflects to the degree of responsibility individuals have in contributing to the reform agenda and coping with megatrends. He hopes that the development strategy in Asia Pacific countries would focus on growth, employment, efficiency, and equity.
Dr. Maria Fe Villamejor-Mendoza, Professor and Dean at the National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines (UP-NCPAG), presented plans of the college to organize the 27th EROPA General Assembly and Conference, with the theme, “The Future of Public Administration: Rethinking Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability in the Region and Beyond.” The conference is tentatively scheduled from 16-20 September 2019.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Sri Hadiati of the National Institute of Public Administration, Indonesia, expressed her gratitude and appreciation to the participants and guests of the conference. Meanwhile, Mr. Arun Sharma, one of the conference participants, admitted that the learning curve for him during the conference is steep, but that it was enjoyable. He considered the breakout sessions as “breakthrough” sessions, having learned new insights from various parallel presentations in the conference. He also shared that he had an opportunity to meet delegates from different parts of the world.
Finally, in closing the conference, Dr. Adi Suryanto, Chair of the NIPA, urged the need for collective response to megatrends, and hoped that the experiences of the participants from the conference will apply to their respective countries in coping with the megatrends.