#POST2015 #APFSD #sustdevAP Advancing the Agenda for Development Justice
A three day long Asia Pacific Civil Society forum on Sustainable Development was organized from 15 to 17 May 2014 in Bangkok by UN ESCAP during which aimed to inform and capacitate civil society participants on sustainable development at the global and regional levels, and on the opportunities and modalities for engaging these processes. While the event also provided the platform for CSO to dialogue on the content and substance of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and formulate civil society positions building on Asia-Pacific civil society messages on post-Rio+20 and post-2015 development agenda and strategize interventions at the APFSD. It conveyed the message to unite on the creation of an Asia-Pacific civil society engagement facilitation mechanism for sustainable development; and agreed on joint actions and follow up to civil society positions adopted.
During the forum I had an opportunity to contribute in two group discussions as a rapporteur and presenter on the topics:
- Governance, Peace, Stability and Rule of Law
- Process: Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (RCEM)
“Advancing the Agenda for Development Justice”
Civil society groups from Asia and the Pacific met in Bangkok from May 15-17, 2014 to develop regional recommendations on just and sustainable development for action at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.
The Asia Pacific region has seen rapid growth, and significant improvements in the lives of millions of people over the last decades but grave challenges remain. The region still has the largest concentration of people without adequate food, income and employment. Inequalities in the distribution of wealth, power and resources between and within countries, and among rich and poor, men and women, social groups, and current and future generations, are growing and undermining wellbeing for the majority of the population. Unplanned and unregulated urbanisation is increasing and environmental conditions are deteriorating rapidly especially in ecologically sensitive areas such as oceans, forests and mountain regions. Climate change is threatening the lives and futures of entire populations, particularly in the Pacific islands. All of these challenges are threatening the livelihoods of many, including small farmers and fishers and driving migration on an unprecedented scale. Women, migrants and young people in particular are trapped in vulnerable situations and face serious barriers to fully and freely participate in the different arenas of society. Health remains a critical challenge, with limited progress addressing sexual, reproductive, and child health, HIV, TB, malaria and other infectious diseases, a growing burden of non-communicable diseases, and the spread of toxic chemicals. Human rights violations and environmentally destructive practices are often committed with impunity by large corporations, elites and other power holders with the support or complicity of state forces.
The Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to define the region’s own development priorities and pathways. We urge governments, global and regional institutions to act on the following recommendations:
1. On integration and transformation for sustainable development:
Achieve development justice by implementing fundamental structural changes and putting people, particularly marginalized communities, at the center. In particular, eliminate inequalities through the redistribution and control of resources, wealth and power, including through progressive taxation; develop economies that enable dignified lives and guarantee rights to decent work, livelihoods, health, including sexual and reproductive health, education, energy, water and sanitation for all; secure land rights for landless women and men; guarantee sexual and reproductive rights; eliminate all forms of discrimination, marginalization, exclusion and violence, particularly on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression; address fundamentalism and end impunity; and ensure accountability to the people.
2. On shared prosperity within planetary boundaries:
Distribute the benefits of development more equally and universalize access to quality public social services, including by reallocating resources from military spending to public goods. Establish a production system that takes into account the real environmental costs of products and services and increase demand for more sustainable products and services. Promote low-carbon development through carbon-neutral sources of energy, the reduction of energy use, and the expansion of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Reorient production, consumption and distribution systems, natural resource management and extraction towards peoples’ needs and to maintain ecological balance. Advance biodiversity-based ecological agriculture and food sovereignty and curtail corporate control of industrial food production systems.
3. On governance, peace and rule of law:
Base the SDGs on and fully implement existing international and regional agreements, conventions and treaties; ensure the participation and leadership of civil society, people’s organizations, social movements, youth, and other stakeholders in decision and policy making and accountability mechanisms at all levels; ensure the full realization of all human rights; end corruption; guarantee the right to information; guarantee accountable and democratic systems of governance, strong judiciaries, and access to justice. Establish a binding regulatory framework to ensure corporate sector accountability for activities that threaten sustainable development and human rights.
4. On means of implementation:
Commit to means of implementation and an effective global partnership based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to realize the right to development. Raise finances through increased development assistance, progressive taxation, financial transaction taxes and the redirection of military spending. Implement effective debt cancellation and restructuring mechanisms. Eliminate tax havens, illicit capital flows and discourage remittance-based financing of development. Prioritise public sector financing over public-private partnerships and strengthen corporate accountability and regulation. Go beyond technology transfer to support and build local capacity and innovation, promote endogenous and traditional knowledge and technology; ensure access by marginalized groups; and overcome IPR barriers, especially on access to medicine. Reform trade and investment rules to protect and promote local production and employment, especially of farmers, fishers and other small producers. Commit to monitoring, evaluation and reporting, disaggregated data collection, as well as greater accountability and transparency.
5. On the way forward:
We call upon the UN and the HLPF to effectively:
- Establish mechanisms to transform the approach of the UN, international institutions and governments to ensure policy coherence and engage with contentious issues;
- Initiate regional and sub-regional level peer review mechanisms to evaluate performance on sustainable development that involve all stakeholders;
- Establish special rapporteurs to assess progress, challenges and offer recommendations on how to address key sustainable development issues; and
- Develop accountability and reporting mechanisms for all stakeholders involved in financing sustainable development, including UN Agencies, international financial and trade institutions, transnational corporations and the private sector.
To facilitate and institutionalize civil society participation in development processes, we call upon the HLPF, Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) members, and governments to:
- Recognize civil society has the experience and technical expertise to contribute to constructive development debates based on our work from the grassroots to the global levels;
- Ensure that civil society engages not only as observers, but as partners with equal rights in policy development, implementation, monitoring and accountability in all regional and global mechanisms, including the APFSD and High Level Political Forum;
- Institutionalize civil society participation in all sustainable development processes through a regional civil society engagement mechanism designed by civil society themselves.
Finally, we as civil society commit to work together with governments and other institutions to promote just and sustainable development for the people of Asia and the Pacific