The agenda of the Philippines' hosting of APEC 2015 is exemplified through its theme which focuses on promoting and advancing inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region. This goal on promoting inclusive growth is divided into three stages: domestic/national, regional, and macro levels. There are also four priority set for APEC 2015:
- Investing in Human Capital Development
- Fostering Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) Participation in Regional and Global Markets
- Building Sustainable and Resilient Communities
- Enhancing the Regional Economic Integration Agenda
The official APEC 2015 logo and theme, "Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World", were unveiled during the event, as well as its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The logo design was donated by INKSURGE Design Studio. The circle in the logo represents a global community which is described as more connected, more integrated and more dynamic, and where each APEC member-economies, both advanced and emerging contribute to shared development. The design also depicts the 21 APEC member-economies as blue, red and yellow triangles connected by common waters.
The sustained and shared economic growth of the member-economies are represented through an arrow pointed upward at the center of the globe, an image formed by the 21 triangles. The light blue shade of the arrow symbolized the promising development of a member-economy resulting from positive interaction with partners and compliance to sound macroeconomic fundamentals. The triangle itself symbolizes balance which leads to a strong and stable economy.
The three colors of the triangles represents the APEC’s Pillars of Progress or the Bogor Goals: 1) Trade and investment liberalization; 2) Business facilitation through cost reduction and efficiency of business transactions, and; 3) Economic and technical cooperation among APEC member-economies. These goals were first outlined and described during the 1994 APEC summit in Indonesia.
Preparations for APEC 2015 began with the signing of Administrative Order No. 36, s. 2012, which constituted the APEC 2015 National Organizing Council. On 1 December 2014, President Benigno Aquino III led the APEC 2015 national launch at a dinner in Makati. The Philippine government allocated approximately 10 billion pesos for the hosting of the APEC meetings.
As part of the security measures for the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the government declared 17–20 November as school holidays and 18–19 November as special non-working days in Metro Manila. Manila has also banned most activities in and around Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay, such as fishing, sailing, swimming, and walking.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) were placed from blue alert to red alert status on 14 November in preparation for the five-day event. The raising of alert status was done ahead of schedule due to a procedure by the police following any international terrorist incident, such as the November 2015 Paris attacks which occurred a day earlier. Nevertheless, the PNP assured the public that the alert status is due routine procedure and it has not monitored any specific threat. The AFP deployed its land, air, and naval assets at several undisclosed positions within Metro Manila.
As part of the APEC tradition, custom-made Barong Tagalog clothing were designed by fashion designer Paul Cabral for the economic leaders to wear during the "family-photo" portion of the event to showcase Philippine fashion and talent. Meanwhile, Filipino industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue was hired as the APEC creative director and was put in charge of decorating the interior of the Mall of Asia Arena in preparation for the APEC Economic Leaders' Welcome Dinner on 18 November 2015. His venue design took inspiration from the Banaue Rice Terraces, a World Heritage Site.
Makati in Metro Manila hosted the first APEC 2015 meeting, the Informal Senior Officials' Meeting (ISOM), from 8 to 9 December 2014. Originally slated to be held in Legazpi, Albay, the meeting was transferred to Makati as storm signals were raised in the former due to Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as Typhoon Ruby.
The First Senior Officials' Meeting and Related Meetings were held in Clark Freeport, Angeles, Pampanga and Subic Bay, Zambales, from 26 January to 7 February 2015.
The island of Boracay in Aklan hosted the Second Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings from 9–21 May 2015 and the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting from 23–24 May.
The Third Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM3) and Related Meetings were held in Cebu City from 22 August to 6 September, followed by the APEC Finance Ministers' Meeting from 10–11 September. Other ministerial meetings and events were held in various locations in the Philippines, such as Iloilo City for the Small and Medium Enterprise ministerial meeting on 21–25 September, the Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum on 22–23 September, and the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and the Blue Economy and Related Meetings from 28 September to 6 October 2015 also in Iloilo City.
The APEC CEO Summit was held on 16–18 November at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The theme of summit was "Creating the Future: Better, Stronger, Together".
The highlight of the series of meetings, the Economic Leaders' Meeting, was held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay, Metro Manila on 18–19 November. On the evening of 18 November, President Aquino hosted a welcome dinner for the visiting economic leaders at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos represented his country in an observer status in the Economic Leaders' Meeting.
A week prior to the Economic Leaders' Meeting, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, both of whom had initially announced their attendance, decided not to attend in the occasion citing their attendance to address their own domestic issues, particularly the ongoing investigation of the Metrojet Flight 9268 crash and the 2015 Southeast Asian haze, respectively. Putin was represented by former Russian President, now Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who was also scheduled to visit other Southeast Asian countries. Widodo was represented by his trade minister Thomas Lembong and Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
This was the first APEC meeting for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since their inaugurations on 15 September 2015 and 4 November 2015, respectively.
It was also the last APEC meeting for the host, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (who stepped down in June 30, 2016 following the 2016 Philippine presidential election and the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte), as well as Vietnamese President Trương Tấn Sang (who stepped down in April 2, 2016), and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala (who stepped down in July 28, 2016 following the 2016 Peruvian election).
The declaration was sealed by the APEC economic leaders on 19 November 2015. Among the five main points of the declaration were related to fighting terrorism, poverty and climate change, continuous economic growth, and the global economic outlook.
Aside from the Economic Leaders' Meeting itself, some leaders met with each other in separate bilateral meetings within the week of the leaders' meet.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto were hosted state visits by Aquino at the Malacañang Palace on 16 and 17 November, respectively, prior to the meeting.
Aquino met with U.S. President Barack Obama on 18 November. During their meeting, Obama reassured the United States' commitment to assisting the Philippines in resolving the territorial disputes in the South China Sea through joint exercises between the AFP and the United States Armed Forces, known as Balikatan ("shoulder-to-shoulder"). Prior to the meeting, Obama met with the Philippine Navy and visited the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), where he announced that the U.S. government would donate the research vessel RV Melville and two Hamilton-class cutters to the Philippine Navy, one of which will be the USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719). Aquino also met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev later that day.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Obama held a bilateral meeting on 19 November and talked about issues on the reallocation of U.S. Marines from the US base in Okinawa to Guam and the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Commuters and motorists took on social networking sites on the heavy traffic situation caused by the road closures and rerouting schemes in different Metro Manila roads in anticipation to the APEC meeting. Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda apologized for the inconvenience brought about by the heavy traffic in Manila roads and asking the public for patience on the road advisories being implemented.
Human Rights Watch has reported that the government's preparation for the Economic Leaders' Meeting extended to the homeless and impoverished people, including street children and vendors, who were either detained or relocated to other parts of Metro Manila. The government denied such allegations of abuse and said that the actions were not only done for the APEC summit and such are part of its regular outreach program.
During the APEC Economic Leaders' Summit on 18–19 November, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan conducted protests along Gil Puyat Avenue, Pasay City, against China's aggressive policy of claiming islands in the South China Sea, against the United States regarding what they describe as US imperialism because of the Philippines–United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), as well as APEC itself, globalization, and poverty in the Philippines. Meanwhile, tribal leaders and members from various Lumad tribes in Mindanao also gathered at the Redemptorist Church grounds in Baclaran, Pasay City, to protest what they describe as APEC's promotion of militarization and encroachment of indigenous communities in favor of resource extraction by transnational mining companies.
On 18 November, members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged their own protest action in Makati City while dressed as animal mascots. PETA called on APEC economic leaders to promote to climate change awareness and conversion to vegan life for the welfare of the animals.