Press Release: Over 100 Civil Society Organisations and Activists Demand Development Justice for Sustainable Development

1 April 2019
Bangkok, Thailand

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.

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