1 April 2019
More than 100 civil society organisations (CSOs) participated in the 3-day 6th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) themed ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’ held in consultation with governments of Asia Pacific region and UNESCAP in Bangkok. The CSOs gathered at the event under the umbrella of Asia Pacific Regional CSO Mechanism (AP-RCEM), a platform for CSOs to engage with United Nations in this region.
The CSOs emphasised that for sustainable development to be achieved the burden needed to be shifted from communities to be resilient, to addressing the systemic issues like neoliberal and extractive model of development. Civil society also raised concerns that engaging private sector to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will undermine the human rights of the most marginalised communities and people.
Jiten Yumnam, Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur, India representing Indigenous Peoples constituency said, “While specific challenges and vulnerabilities of indigenous peoples to systemic barriers in realising SDGs are acknowledged in the outcome document, we are concerned that the governments in the region continue to promote the very unsustainable and neoliberal development model facilitating the corporate capture and plunder of indigenous peoples land and resources through pursuance of extractive industries, unsustainable energy projects like mega dams, oil exploration, leading to their impoverishment, inequality and rights violations. This is marked by exclusion and non recognition of indigenous people’s rights and mechanisms for corporate accountability and further hinders the realisation of SDGs within Indigenous peoples’ land and territories.”
“This year’s theme of empowering people is greatly hinged on recognising freedom of association. It is lamentable that trade union density in the region is one of the lowest in the world and violation of human and fundamental workers’ rights contributes to this. It is unacceptable that workers strikes are dispersed violently and trade union leaders get jailed on trumped up charges or are killed. Our voices need to be heard in an environment where we are treated as co-equals by the state that does not bow down to corporate power,” added Julius Cainglet, Vice President, Federation of Free Workers, Philippines, an affiliate of the International Trade Union Confederation and representing Trade Union Constituency.
Civil society organisations stressed the importance of including them the process of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. “We know that it would take courage for governments to shift from the dominant model of partnership based on greed which is heavily reliant on economic growth. Genuine partnership can exist and work when we share objectives and vision for development justice based on solidarity where peoples’ movements are able to hold governments and corporations accountable. True peoples’ empowerment, inclusion and equality can only happen when we can redistribute wealth, power and resources from the elites to those who have been systematically left behind,” said Wardarina, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development and Co-chair of Asia Pacific Regional CSO Mechanism.
Consultations from over 260 civil society organisations and human rights defenders who attended the Asia Pacific Peoples Forum on Sustainable Development from 24th-26th March in Bangkok were reflected in AP-RCEM’s key demands for sustainable development for the Asia Pacific region.
AP-RCEM is a civil society platform with 17 constituencies aimed to enable stronger cross constituency coordination and ensure that voices of all sub-regions of Asia Pacific are heard in intergovernmental processes at the regional and global level. The platform is initiated, owned and driven by the CSOs, and seeks to engage with UN agencies and Member States across the region on the issue of sustainable development. As an open, inclusive, and flexible mechanism, RCEM is designed to reach the broadest number of CSOs in the region, harness the voice of grassroots and peoples’ movements to advance development justice that address the inequalities of wealth, power, resources between countries, between rich and poor and between men and women. Facebook: @CSOAsiaPacific Twitter: @AP_RCEM Website: http://asiapacificrcem.org/
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