Various representatives of civil society and peoples’ organisations from Asia Pacific participated in the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Forum on Sustainable Development (APPFSD or Peoples’ Forum) to unite on collective analyses and position as they engage in the upcoming intergovernmental processes mandated to track the progress in governments’ achievement of the 2030 Agenda or the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). These processes are namely the 10th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand, and the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2023, the SDG Summit 2023 and the Summit of the Future 2024, in New York, USA.
With the theme, Change the System, Shift the Power: Challenging Imperialism and Corporate Capture of the COVID-19 Recovery and the 2030 Agenda, the Peoples’ Forum was organised by the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism – a collective of 600+ organizations from 43 countries across Asia and the Pacific striving for Development Justice – in Bangkok, Thailand on March 24-25, 2023. A total of 120 organisations from the various APRCEM constituencies, namely, (a) Women, (b) Farmers, (c) Youth, Children and Adolescents, (d) Migrants, (e) Workers and Trade Unions, (f) LGBTQIA+, (g) Urban Poor, (h) People Displaced by Disasters and Conflict, (i) Fisherfolk, (j) Dalits, (k) Social and Community Enterprises, (l) Persons with disabilities, (m) Indigenous peoples, (n) Science and Technology, (o) Older Persons, and (p) NGOs.
On the last day, the Peoples’ Forum released a position paper articulating concrete, actionable outcome-oriented demands to ensure efficient COVID-19 recovery and realisation of the 2030 Agenda.
The position puts forward the CSOs’ recommendations to member-states as they engage in the APFSD, HLPF and other multilateral spaces.
In its position paper, the participants highlighted the following:
“While the region was off track in achieving any of the SDGs prior to COVID 19, the multidimensional crises triggered by the pandemic along with the systemic barriers continue to hamper the realisation of peoples’ rights and development justice. Pandemic responses have been hijacked by corporations and governments to continue the business-as-usual approach prioritizing corporate bailouts over SMEs recovery or social protection for the unemployed. Corporate capture manifested in regressive tax systems, illicit financial flows, liberalisation of trade, monopolization of agriculture and food systems, and hegemonic rules on intellectual property have led to the concentration of wealth, power, and resources in the hands of the corporate elites.
Amid the pandemic, the ten richest men doubled their wealth, the richest 1% amassed $26 trillion (63% of all new wealth) since 2020, while the 99% of the world’s population faced existential threats with their dwindling incomes.”
“We are halfway towards the deadline of achieving the 2030 Agenda, but in truth we are decades behind in progress on the goals, projected to be achieved by 2065 at the current rate. The new timeline is based on 53% available data, and does not factor COVID induced regressions that could stretch us well into the 22nd century unless fundamental structural reforms are enacted through strong political will. The worsening triple planetary climate and energy crisis, the increasing militarism and conflict, as well as the rise of patriarchal authoritarian governance pose serious challenges to the ambition and essence of the 2030 Agenda.
Fractured multilateralism, profit-driven neoliberal framework, asymmetry in global power relations, hegemony of imperialist countries, their devices and patterns, domination of behemoth corporations, aid and trade rules benefiting the Global North, and diversion between sustainable development and respect to human rights fueling persistent inequities have been the fundamental structural flaws in our weak global governance. There is no sustainability without equity, justice and peace. Unless the conceptualization of transformation addresses these systemic failures, upholds Development Justice and ensures Right to Development for all, achieving the SDGs will remain a pipe dream.
At the 2023 SDG Summit and Summit of the Future in 2024, governments, international organisations, civil society and other stakeholders are set to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The upcoming events are opportunities to assert the need for transformative system change and affirmative shift in power to better address development challenges. Our positions reflect people’s demands where inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is given primacy over profit and greed. It is high time that we shifted the power to the people, as we urge action and demand real solutions for a genuine transformative change towards a just and fair future for all.”
Key messages from the Position Paper were delivered during the 10th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development held on March 27-30, 2023 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.
Various constituency representatives of the APRCEM and participants from the Peoples’ Forum raised in all their interventions the collective view on systemic barriers that have overall hampered the realisation of peoples’ rights and development justice and the corporate capture of the SDGs. They have highlighted that in certain occasions tokenistic support from duty bearers have been given to CSOs and grassroots wishing to meaningfully participate in the advocacy spaces. They reiterated the need to realise the peoples’ demands for genuine, inclusive and sustainable development that prioritises human dignity and rights over profit.
The links to the complete Position Paper and its major points can be accessed here.