Monday, April 4, 2016

Asserting People’s Priorities to Achieve Development Justice

Summary of Civil Society Recommendations for the APFSD April 2, 2016 (official submitted to APFSD-3, Bangkok, Thailand)

Your excellences, honorable delegates, UN agencies, civil society colleagues and friends;
We, the participants of the Asia Pacific Civil Society Forum on Sustainable Development from 135 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who met in Bangkok from March 31 – April 2, 2016, wish to share our recommendations, based on a framework of development justice, for consideration and action at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD). Development justice is based on the foundations of redistributive, economic, social, gender and environmental justice and accountability to the peoples.

We appreciate the opportunity to include our voices in these deliberations that respect the rules of CSO engagement and would like to submit our full statement to the Chair to be included as an annex to the outcome document.

We further offer our assistance as full development partners in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We wish to build upon the positive experience of engagement in the development of the agenda through the (RCEM), which is in accordance with.

As such, we highlight the need for constructive and meaningful participation of civil society in the monitoring, follow-up and review processes of Agenda 2030, as expressed in paragraph 74.
Central to leaving no one behind, of course, is ensuring that no one is rendered invisible. It is critical to have a comprehensive, inclusive, and holistic indicator framework, informed by lived realities of the peoples in the region. If Agenda 2030 is to be achieved, the implementation of the SDGs needs to be fully aligned and anchored on human rights, social justice, non-discrimination and environmental sustainability. Similarly, the involvement of private sector in development must be guided by these same principles.

The rights and perspectives of the most marginalized groups such as women and girls, children, adolescents, young people, people with disabilities, older persons, LGBTIQ, indigenous peoples, farmers, fisherfolks, dalits, urban poor, migrants, refugees, people affected by conflict and disasters, and people living and affected by HIV, people who use drugs, sex workers, and others must be included.

We are concerned that an unacceptably narrow approach to development continues to be implemented. We cannot talk of sustainable development without the respect forof human rights and addressing the multiple and intersecting forms of inequality, disempowerment and discrimination affecting peoples, communities and populations in the region.
• Respect, protect and fulfill human rights through the reduction of social, cultural and economic inequalities
• Reinforce the policies and actions necessary for poverty eradication, and break the cycles of exclusion and inequality, including unmediated rights to land and resources as a condition for achieving development in the region;
• Realize proportionate representation of the marginalised populations in political and economic governance, and build, strengthen, and ensure sustainability of national andsubnational public institutions on sustainable development and address any gaps in data through production of disaggregated data.

We are deeply concerned about the increasing number of laws and practices in the region that arelimiting civil society space and impeding people’s freedom of speech, expression and information; as well as the numerous threats against and criminalization of human rights defenders. This not only contravenes the spirit of Agenda 2030, but will prevent Asia and the Pacific from achieving just and sustainable development for all.

In the ethos of regional solidarity, we ask that our participation be institutionalized at all levels, on the basis of the principle of non-regression, and be reflected in the regional roadmap before us. The inclusion of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups is imperative to the success of the agenda, and inherent to the principles of transparency, equality, equity, accountability and non- discrimination.

People should be at the heart of any development agenda. Anything else will result in governments falling short in their implementation of programmes and actions that meaningfully reach “the furthest behind first”1.

We wish all the delegates a fruitful meeting in the three days ahead and look forward to working together. Thank you.

** The complete version can be donwloaded in this link. 

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