Six years since the inception of the Agenda 2030, many nations across the world are not on track the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with only less than ten years left before its target accomplishment. Looking closely in the Asia and the Pacific, many governments and stakeholders across the region who are promoting the SDGs are heavily disjointed with their constituencies in working towards the achievement of the goals. Its detachment to the reality on the ground and its tokenistic and selective approach on the goals have only strayed away from the path to genuine and transformative development.

On top of these preexisting circumstances, there’s a multitude of setbacks the region is facing – from the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic; further widening of wealth inequality; environmental and climate crisis; as well as the worsening human rights situation in many nations. The conditions present in the region demand a more holistic and people-centered approach to be on track the Agenda 2030.

Civil society organisations (CSOs) and people’s movements across the region have critically engaged governments, UN, and intergovernmental organisations in achieving sustainable development and development justice. Their commitment to raising the bar on how state actors should see the fulfillment of the goals from the people’s perspective is pivotal to how nations can strategically map out their policies amidst a multitude of crises.

One policy engagement platform that discusses the Agenda 2030 is the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), a regional forum that aims to provide regional perspectives on the implementation as well as follow up and review of progress of the 2030 Agenda. This year’s theme is “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia and the Pacific”. The theme aims to foster discussion on the regional execution of the Agenda 2030 and conduct in-depth review of 9 specific goals: SDGs 1 (No poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good health and well-being), 8 (Decent work and economic growth), 10 (Reduced inequalities), 12 (Responsible consumption and production), 13 (Climate action), 16 (Peace, justice, and strong institutions) and 17 (Partnerships) as well as the regional follow-up and review for the VNR countries (Bhutan, China, Japan, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan) this year.

In preparation for the engagement in the annual APFSD, the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Forum on Sustainable Development (APPFSD), organised by the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM), provides an inclusive space for discussion and sharing among civil society organisations (CSOs) and peoples’ movements in the region on their positions on key sustainable development issues. The APPFSD carves its space against a backdrop of shrinking civic spaces and digital divide brought upon the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum aims to serve as a platform that harnesses the collective voice of the region towards transformative and genuine development that serves the needs of the most marginalised. 

This year’s forum builds on the previous year’s insights from the Peoples’ Forum “Solidarity and System Change are the Only Antidotes to COVID-19” and will discuss the regional progress of the SDGs and the Agenda 2030 from the constituency’s perspective; challenging the framework of its implementation and sharpening its analysis through the lens of Development Justice.

Asia Pacific Peoples’ Forum 2021: Beyond Agenda 2030: Asia and the Pacific for Transformative and Genuine Change is on from 19th March 2021 to 21st March 2021. These year, APWLD and its members have organised several workshops and side events. Join us at #PeoplesForum2021 for our side events as our members and partners demand #DevelopmentJusticeNow and a #FeministResponse.

19 March 2021

Feminist Movement Building in the era of Patriarchal Authoritarian Regime in Asia and the Pacific

Time: 10 am to 12 pm ICT. Register for the workshop here.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the region has witnessed worsening inequalities, unprecedented levels of corporate power, and patriarchy, embedded in social and cultural norms as well as economic policies, systemically limits women’s bodies, work, decision-making power and opportunities. It is important to note that in the past 6 years implementation of SDGs, the region has also witnessed resurgence of authoritarianism and the ‘closing down’ of democratic spaces.

In many countries in Asia and the Pacific, women human rights defenders, peoples’ movements, women in labour movements, and civil society organisations are experiencing growing political repression, along with a resurgence of patriarchal authoritarian governance. The rise of macho-fascist leaders in the region propagating the notion that countries need a strong, aggressive leadership has led to increasing fundamentalisms and ultra-nationalism, flexing military power, and misogynistic attacks on women human rights defenders both offline and online, as well as increasing violence against women at homes, local and state level. Freedom of expression, assembly and association, rights to unionise, media freedom and progressive journalists are under attack; while the law has been tactically used to harass peoples’ democratic voices and organising, surveil and control access to data and information. Repressive laws pertaining to digital rights, privacy and accountability are being pushed by governments and corporations to absolve them of their responsibility to the public.

However, In the past years – despite the pushback, repression, crackdowns by masculine-autocratic governments – we have seen how movements – including feminist movements – creatively persist, resist and fight back. Waves of organised mobilisation for democracy in Thailand and Hong Kong, cross-movements rallies in Indonesia rejecting new oppressive labour law, resistance through culture and art demanding Stop the Killings in the Philippines and cross-country solidarity through online organising are among the very recent examples.

The 2 hours workshop will showcase the increasing trend of authoritarianism in different countries in Asia and the Pacific, how it is linked to other systemic issues like neoliberal capitalism, patriarchy, militarism and conflict, and how it impacts women’s human rights and SDGs (including SDG 1, 2, 3, 8, 10 and 16). The workshop also aims to collate stories of creative organising and mobilising by feminist movements – particularly in navigating autocratic practices as well as COVID-19 crisis. Register for the workshop here.

Development Justice for the People and Planet

Time: 1 pm to 3 pm ICT. Register for the workshop here.

The Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM) is driven by the core objective of enhancing grassroot civil society organizations’ capacity for enhanced advocacy around development outcomes in the region. The Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development contains critical blindspots concerning some of the most progressive elements of APRCEM’s mandate; for instance, the business as usual model of neoliberal development or lack of clarity around Means of Implementation (MOI) indicators, among others. We cannot afford to lose sight of the critical gains secured through decades of advocacy around core issues while the Agenda 2030 is confronted with prioritizing consensus ahead of ideology. In the absence of robust accountability mechanisms, reduced to Follow up & Review through Voluntary National Review, Development Justice (DJ) has become a strategic imperative that calls for social, economic, gender, environmental and political justice for people and the planet. Register for the workshop here.


20 March 2021

Feminist tools and methods for monitoring and accountability using Development Justice indicators

Time: 11 am to 1 pm ICT. Register for the workshop here.

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) along with civil society in the Asia Pacific region, called for the Development Justice framework that seeks to reduce inequalities of wealth, power and resources between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women and other social groups. APWLD believes that without addressing the structural impediments to 2030 agenda – such as extractive based neoliberal capitalism, unjust financial, trade and investment agreements, land and resource threats, militarism, patriarchy and fundamentalism, as well as patriarchal authoritarian governance – the transformative vision of SDGs will never be achieved. With this vision, APWLD has been working with numbers of national and grassroots organizations to monitor the implementation of 2030 Agenda using the Development Justice indicators since 2016. Civil society organizations at the national and local level in Asia pacific region are able to hold their governments accountable, address any failures in progress to achieve the goals and targets, and ensure that the people’s transformative development agenda is not subsumed under the expansive work of monitoring the SDGs. Register for the workshop here.

Skill Sharing Workshop on Digital Advocacy and Communication

Time: 2 pm to 4 pm ICT. Register for the workshop here.

The workshop aims to increase the skills of participants on digital advocacy, including building strategy, tools to use and using different platforms including social media. Participants will be able to use this skills to amplify the issues and demands of their respective constituencies in different advocacy arena, including Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. Register for the workshop here.

Strengthening Peoples’ Movements to Demand Urgent Climate Actions and A Total Coal/Fossil Fuels Exit

Time: 4 pm ICT. Register for the event here.

The workshop will look invite different levels of movements on climate change/climate justice –local, national and regional– to share their activities, achievement and challenges in addressing the systemic barriers towards achieving just and equitable transition and climate justice. Also, it will look at how to strengthen, and support one another and collaborate among different movements. The workshop will also look at the plan, strategy and if possible actions that can be done together for effective engagement for the HLPF2021 and the intervention for COP26, and beyond. Register for the event here.


21 March 2021

Solidarity and System Change are the Only Antidotes to COVID-19

Time: 1 pm to 3 pm ICT. Register for the event here.

In May 2020, APRCEM released a statement entitled “Solidarity and System Change are the Only Antidotes to COVID-19” which contains APRCEM analysis on the COVID-19 crisis. The statements also offered wide range of concrete policy recommendations to achieve COVID-19 recovery that delivers the legacy of Development Justice – from the issue of health, decent work and wages for impacted workers, protection of migrants, trade and debt, technology, and governance. Register for the event here.