Peoples’ Forum Statement for the 2018 APFSD

March 25-27 | Bangkok, Thailand

  1. Introduction / Chapeau

(to be read during opening along with the closing part of the statement)

We the people and CSOs of Asia and the Pacific met and discussed multiple dimensions of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs at the “Peoples Forum on Sustainable Development 2018” with the emphasis on “defending the environment and redefining resilience” at Bangkok during 25th to 27th March, 2018. We  are more than 200 CSOs representing various groups/constituencies/concerns bound together by the commitment to strengthen the interlinkages among rights, development and sustainability and first attention for the most marginalized.


While we note and appreciate the progress on implementing the SDGs which is reflected by sustained discussions rooted in the Agenda 2030 including that in the HLPF, we remain concerned by several factors underpinning the implementation of the Agenda 2030 in the region.


While the government are moving towards taking up the Agenda; there seems to be very little urgency even as we enter third year of the implementation. While countries in the region continue to have rapid economic growth; it is being increasingly challenged by impacts of climate change, disasters, human rights violations and shrinking democratic spaces, and lack of access to food, water, clean air and health care. Even as we talk about eradicating poverty from the planet; more people are pushed below poverty by dispossession of land, productive resources and natural resources due to policies favoring big business and unaccountable corporations. Even as we talk about creating sustainable jobs, more and more people continue to lose their livelihoods due to conflicting policies, corporate onslaughtonslught and unequal trade agreements. Even as we talk about strengthening partnerships with the CSOs; more and more CSOs, human rights activists and environmental defenders face oppression, intimidation and threats marginalization within and across the regions. Even as the spirit of the Agenda is leaving no one behind; seas of people in the region and the world are being excluded left, unseen and unheard of.


We discussed extensively almost all dimensions of the Agenda involving goals, targets and indicators, planning, implementation, monitoring, inclusion and exclusion, partnerships, means of implementation, progress, achievements and challenges and specifically reviewed the progress on goals under review in the HLPF 2018. We What we are most concerned by the slow and uneven pace of progress, lack of reflections of peoples’ priority in the SDGs, lack of space for civil society organizations in the planning, implementation and review, lack of accountability towards the people, undue prominence given to big business, poor monitoring and review frameworks, lack of clear road map, strategies and institutional mechanism in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.


We have several critical observations and concerns on both the content and the process, and unless addressed these have the potential of elbowing people and planet out from the path of sustainability that all of us have embarked.


(Outcomes from the workshops and goal specific discussions to follow)



  1. Achieving Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies

(to be read during APFSD Panel on Regional Priorities)


Asia Pacific has witnessed a rapid growth which has brought down poverty to some extent. However, many countries have long and winding paths to go before they can be sustainable so that the region achieves the critical SDG goals. Poverty eradication, reducing extreme inequalities, sustainable infrastructure, jobs and livelihoods, access to health, energy and green mobility solutions, and insulating communities from extreme climate events and disasters are the core areas which require further and sustained improvements to enhance resilience in the region. However, we strongly recommend that resilience has to be redefined by underpinning it with the development justice and five transformational shifts that underscore it. There is an urgent need to redefine resilience and test it on the touchstone of internationally accepted frameworks on human and gender rights, centrality of planetary boundaries and farthest first. Resilience must be redefined in the light of decreasing resilience of the vulnerable communities due to poverty, and human rights violations from state and non state actors. Resilience must be redefined from the perspective of workers, most of whom are witnessing the impacts of lowered labour standards and inappropriate social security. Resilience must be redefined in the light of poor communities dependent on natural resources who are witnessing complete erosion of their livelihoods and habitat. Resilience must be redefined to sound a caution on the extreme faith is big technology deprived of participation of people in its development and deployment. Resilience also need to take into consideration unequal power structure at the global and regional levels in aid and trade policies, which increasingly favour big and powerful countries and multinational corporations at the expense to people. Resilience also needs to integrate of rights of environmental defenders more and more of whom are being targeted for their exemplary commitments to the people and the planet. Unless we redefine resilience on these critical considerations, defending environment and achieving sustainability will be an exercise in futility.


(Deepak) Redefining the discourse on the resilience of the vulnerable communities is prime to achieve the well being of people and ensureing achievement ofn the environmental targets under the Sustainable Development Goals. The various communities in the region have witnessed erosion of their fundamental rights because of big corporations’ wide scale plunder and abuse of common resourcesour natural resources. due to unwarranted and forceful use of environmental hindrances from the private sector or big corporations. Government support and promotion of extractive business for The hands on support from the government has have negatively inversely affected the communities depending on the natural resources. Various communities including the Indigenous communities and fisher folks, who depend on the natural resources have faced structural barriers in attaining their rights including right to life, livelihood and dignity.  Various commmunities, such as Fundamental rights to life, livelihood, and life with dignity of   dignitylIindigenous peoples and fisher folks that depend on these natural resources are violated of their fundamental rights to life, livelihood, and dignity because of governments’ support and promotion offor these extractive businesses.


Resilience of the communities have led to various negotiations with the government and drastic action towards ensuring the protection of their rights and entitlements. This region has have a diverse biodiversity, but faces the common concern of pPro-private corporation policies ofprovided by the governments. This focus on the rapid economic growth has left the many resource-dependentof the environment depended communities vulnerable and in debts. Resilience is not a positive term;, we request the government to recognize thatthe impact of their neo-liberal policies haves led to increasedcreated vulnerability and ‘forced’ resiliency for these self- sustaininged communities.       (major points incorporated above)


Agenda 2030 and SDGs should have a just and equitable transitions approach, keeping in mind that real solutions for inclusive futures come from grassroots and local people. for inclusive futures. It should facilitate decent work, food sovereignty and democratic energy systems accessible to all, leaving no one behind. SDGs are largely seeming to be favouring only corporates regaining control of resources for their extractive and often exploitative businesses proposing false solutions. Without addressing such conflict of interest, it remains difficult for partnerships to be made between activists and businesses, communities and governments, civil societies and UN.


  1. Sustainable Development Goals for 2018


Goal 6

Inclusiveness of all segments of people and sustainability are essential components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Water can be linked to almost all of the seventeen SDGs, since it touches so many aspects of life — be it drinking, growing food and eating, doing business, sanitation, health and, food security and energy. In many countries women are responsible for fetching water for different uses; they have gained expertise in the whole water chain; from the water source and its protection to the consumption of clean and safe water and the use of waste water. Water is fundamental for everything: without water, no life is going to sustain in the universe.


For sustainability over time, it is essential to look at the water cycle in its entirety, including all uses and users. Countries need to move away from the sectoral development and management of water resources, in favour of a more integrated approach that can balance different needs in an equitable manner.

We are aware that agriculture is both the major water user and the major water polluter. The sector is currently responsible for 70% of water abstractions worldwide and, according to Global Meat News, 92% of our water footprint. Agricultural impacts on water quality come from industrial livestock systems, the crops grown for animal feed, and from aquaculture systems; which have each expanded and intensified to meet increasing food demand related to population growth and changes in dietary patterns. Farms also discharge large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues (including anti-biotics), sediments and saline drainage into water bodies.


Water and Sanitation for some communities become the cause of violence. Communities affected from multilevel discrimination like caste (Dalits) in the region has faced violence in terms of accessibility to safe drinking water, because of the purity pollution principle associated with it. Such communities especially women in these communities are also parts of the unhealthy and unhygienic practices of manual scavenging, which has not just physical or psychological effect on the person, but the entire family.


We APRCEM members and local people including indigenous people deliberately position us as active leaders, experts, partners and agents of change to realise access to safe water and sanitation for all – including gender responsive sanitation and hygiene management – for all use; thus contributing to all SDG’s, especially goal 5 on gender equality & 6. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure human rights to water and sanitation. We need to combine the implementation of SDGs 4, 5 and 6 with a focus on increasing access to water for all uses and sanitation for women and girls by implementing projects from a human rights based approach.


Specific Recommendations:


  • Addressing the inequality gap (or ratio) between WASH coverage for urban and rural populations including geographically vulnerable hard to reach areas with focus on gender equality and indigenous women.
  • Affordability of water and sanitation services is an important cross-cutting concern. Compile data on household expenditure, tariffs, income and poverty to start benchmarking affordability across countries especially the economic burden on women headed household and reporting on national, regional and global trends.
  • Education, and awareness raising to empower girls with factual information about their bodies and how to look after it especially in case of Menstrual Hygiene which is a main cause of girls-drop out from school.  Incorporating Menstrual Hygiene Management in school curriculum and create an enabling structure for informed choices around products (including reusables). Increase public awareness about the role of women and girls as equal partners in the water sector at every level to have water security for all.
  • Improve the position of vulnerable people  as actors, experts and leaders through implementing Capacity development, vocational training and leadership training for women.
  • Strengthening of decision making participation of women in WASH committees under the participatory water management groups at local level; ensure representation of women in the management bodies of water institutions at policy and operational level
  • The existence of gender specific objectives and indicators within numbers of interlinked sector development policies and strategies (Sanitation Strategy, Water Act, Health and emergency policy).
  • Address salinity and arsenic contamination of water, proposing specific actions that consider the different patterns of exposure and impacts on women and men. Counter social stigma attached to the effects of arsenic poisoning on women and men.
  • Campaigns to reduce water wastage should target men and women and especially industries and institutions that waste water.
  • More attention is needed to control pollution and to improve water quality and sanitation for the benefit of women who collect domestic water and to improve health.
  • Support innovation and development of water monitoring standards that value women’s labor, creative talents, and management skills regarding water and sanitation.


Goals 7


Despite significant progress in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region, there are areas that require serious considerations. A significant proportion of humanity continue to live in the darkness and without access to clean cooking fuel, which predominantly affects access to other basic services like education, health, mobility and employment opportunities. This affects communities having low resilience due to poverty and mostly women among them.


In many developing countries energy demand projections are greater than the projected growth in the renewables, which is a cause of grave concern. Continued investment in fossil fuels not only keeps scarce resources locked in decades, but also leads to serious adverse impacts on public health, environment, water, air, and land which runs contrary to the goal. This is also bound to quickly close the window of opportunity to prevent rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees celsius by the end of the century. Continued subsidy to fossil fuels also diverts resources to dirty energy. The UNEP emission Gap Report manifests that current pledges are only sufficient to achieve one-third of the desired emission reduction.

The dominant discourse on energy transition needs to take the discussion beyond the narrow confines of renewable energy and energy efficiency and be ceased with the primary essential requirement of reducing energy use and fossil fuel extractions.  Achieving 100% renewable energy and sustain it for all times to come is yet to be claimed unequivocally and tested by science and technology. In this context, it is also relevant to acknowledge the limitations of the renewable energy in terms of finiteness of known rare earth minerals and their lower than fossil fuel’s energy return on energy invested ratio. The just energy transition also needs to look into the concerns of millions of people working in the fossil fuel industry and their appropriate rehabilitation. Member states must ensure that energy transition takes care of equitable access to energy not only for basic requirement but to enable productive uses of energy, energy democracy and energy justice and is not driven by big energy projects but also ensures small utility scale localized and sustainable energy alternatives.


We are also concerned with the push to label highly dangerous nuclear power and big hydropower as green energy. The nuclear energy remains unreliable due to its being extremely prone to accidents and disasters and has potential to affect many generations to come as we have already witnessed. Big hydro has also led to displacement of millions of people, submergence of scarce land and other terrestrial resources, and contributed to the decay of rivers. We also acknowledge and appreciate many countries reviewing utility of big dams and deciding against these expensive, hazardous and destructive alternatives as they have outlived their utility and far more cleaner energy alternatives availability. We also strongly resist false, untested and unreliable technologies and alternatives like geoengineering and CDR which aim at evergreening fossil fuels and profits from it. Last but not least, we also need to look into and address intersectionality of land, water, food, and gender in the energy transition.




With over half the world’s population, cities will play a pivotal role in determining whether the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) realize their transformational potential. Goal 11 on Urbanisation is immensely cross cutting and touches on economic, social and environmental dimensions. An integrated approach is essential to the achievement of this Goal, not only across the 3 dimensions of sustainable development but also in linking to other goals such as on poverty eradication, food security, provision of key services such as health, education, water, and energy, climate change, employment and industrialisation, bio-diversity and so on.


Many data gaps exist for measuring progress for SDG 11, especially time-series data, governments need to invest in it. Governments should create platforms that enhance intercity learning, together with strengthened support from national statistical agencies for standardized reporting of key data over multiple years.  Overall, national governments will need to provide more capacity building for city officials and citizens to understand the important role of cities in realising the 2030 Agenda; cities will also need to rely more on taxes and fees for services to build their own capacity.


We want to draw your attention to a few core issues that urban communities face on the ground. A key challenge that urban poor communities face is forced eviction, losing a secure living space that is key to the development process. They do not have access to enough livelihood opportunities from the new locations after eviction) and with increased cost of living, communities feel broken with their sense of belonging taken away. The quality of life is not paid serious attention to, and the vulnerable nature of urban livelihoods is not acknowledged by urban development programmes and policies, which enforce social stigma and denies them access to essential services. Urban poor communities are looked at as second-class citizens and deprived of opportunities available for other citizen groups and informal residency status creates additional problems for them.


They are also plagued by the systemic barriers such as land grab by state and FDI by corporations lead to extreme marginalisation. Available laws are not enforced especially those related to human rights, involuntary resettlement policy, and rights based housing policies. If they resist they are projected as anti-development. Eviction is also used as a tool in the name of development, forcing poor communities to sometimes take laws into their own hands. In fact even SDG target 11.1 has been misused to grab land and force eviction.


The rural sector has a major role to play in urban areas. The provision of food and industrial raw material remains important but rural to urban migration creates huge pressure on urban communities.  But urban solutions that are sought are never connected to rural situations.


The urban poor do not know the laws that protect them and their rights as citizens. Right to education on rights and role of citizens is also being violated, and available laws are not enforced. They are not seen as contributors to the city and participatory planning does not acknowledge the agency of the people, becoming a box-ticking exercise for states. Positive qualities of existing urban neighbourhoods where people are actually adapting on a daily basis, trying to deal with disability or religious differences and creating livelihoods options, are ignored in current  development programmes. Support for LGBT young, elderly  people especially needs to be taken into account through specialist services such as safe, non-discriminatory housing.


SDG 11.5 express the concerns of people affected by disasters, systemic barriers and mechanisms in the post disaster management express exclusion of the various communities who are already marginalized. Indicators defined in terms of proportion of population rather than disaggregations of the population and their intersectionalities.

We have key recommendations that came out of the Peoples’ Forum. We urge governments to; adopt law with a human rights based development approach including on eviction; ensure visibility of urban poor and recognition as ‘full citizens’; provide adequate opportunities to maintain sustainable living standards including access to employment and decent wage; provide social protection measures including universal access sexual and reproductive health and rights and child protection; extend participatory governance to all types of urban poor including participatory budgeting and community monitoring; and finally address root causes and push-pull factors behind rural-urban migration.

CSOs and governments together must spread more awareness about laws and rights of residents including legal aid, and jointly undertake urban studies on neighbourhoods, transform participatory planning principles into action planning level, and prompt local peer learning among local authorities. We must engage the academic and media communities to highlight identity related issues and the issue of economic, social and environmental aspects of urban injustice. We must promote the ways in which people themselves are taking action, create paths for communities to become the leaders of implementation of SDGs, and finally ensure that SDGs are implemented in a positive manner.


Goal 12


Over exploitation of fossil fuels, minerals, water due to profit driven production patterns are the root causes of enormous emissions and wastes, poor environmental health and the crisis of unsustainability. On the other hand the increasingly consumption based lifestyles that are also increasing inequality and concentrating wealth and power in fewer hands. The persistence of poverty in our region can be closely linked to these production and consumption models. Thus Goal 12 on Sustainable Production and Consumption (SCP) introduces concepts and an alternative model that like the SDGs,  promotes the need to be socially beneficial, economically viable and also safeguard the ecosystem.


SCP must bring to the forefront the fundamental changes to our production and service delivery processes. This immediately shines the spotlight on big businesses and corporate behavior that currently does not follow practices of life cycle approaches that has checks and balances on every stage of the production cycle and tries to address basic needs, minimise waste and increase efficient resource use. We call for ending unsustainable corporate practices that exploit natural resources and marginalises and destroys the livelihoods of some communities. Communities affected suffer impacts to their health and local ecosystems decades after the fact. Women and children are most vulnerable to these changes in the environment. In many cases they have limited avenues for recourse and eventually have to organise and fight back.


We emphasize the need for SCP to be applied to extractive industries, large chemical producing companies and and large scale agriculture and logging industries. Enacting SCP would require stronger environmental and social safeguard measures that must influence decision making at the onset and be embedded in production including rehabilitation and clean-up. Addressing those affected by these industries should also be a priority, as well as the need to put up protectionist measures against foreign and large-scale industries in resource-rich but poor countries in the region.


The social and environmental challenges resulting from extractive and other exploitative industries are not just issues of unsustainable production but are closely linked to unsustainable consumption.  Therefore it is necessary to address lifestyle and consumption patterns that are continuously being shaped by disposable and fast-changing products being introduced by corporations. The increasing dependence on plastic and disposable materials is leading to unsustainable and waste-generating lifestyles. Changing consumption patterns is not just through improving individual lifestyles but the root causes should also be addressed.


The push towards more sustainable lifestyles must target consumers at the higher end, as their footprint is far greater and their resource use denies and discriminates some people. The need to address over consumption and must become a development priority.


At this point we also welcome the decision by UN environment to focus on “innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production” as the theme of UNEA 4 and thereby increasing the imperative to promote SCP and for bringing in the environmental angle inline with the SDGs.  As the UNEA theme involves innovation, it is important to recognise that “innovative solutions” should not be narrowly limited to technological innovations but should broadly include social innovations, local innovations and traditional knowledge systems that matter most to peoples’ lives and contribute to the achievement of SDGs.


We also reiterate the need to be cautious to the use of “sustainable” and “innovative” by industries as this oftentimes green-washes the destructive impacts of these players. The most important innovative solutions that make a difference in peoples’ lives are not even technological but social innovations and linked with traditional practices.  This is the case in sustainable consumption and production that is rooted to the way people lived and societies developed.  Any technological solution, no matter how innovative, that does not address the values of people and communities vis-à-vis natural resources would not bring sustainability.


It is also important to recognise the contribution of local and community innovations and local and traditional knowledge as part of sustainable production systems. These have minimal dependence on chemicals and will not only address reduction in GHG emissions from agriculture, but will also revive the soil and increase its capacity for carbon sequestration. This contributes to attaining sustainable land use, healthy people and healthy environment.


In addition we call to mind how some “Innovative Solutions to Environmental Challenges”, can in turn have environmental impacts. For example “clean coal” and “green coal” to address pollution from the use of fossil fuels;  “sustainable mining technologies” to address concerns on the environmental impacts of extractive industries; and “geoengineering” to address climate change, have proven environmental impacts that negate the claimed solution to environmental challenges need to be exposed and opposed.


Policy advocacy in national and regional level in supporting local and community innovations can also be strategic, as such in governance of natural resources and/or specific policies on community-based resource development. Participatory and community action researches on the issues that surrounds sustainable consumption and production could also provide evidence-based solutions. The practice of social enterprises have already provided a good model for sustainable production and should be promoted under goal 12.




With the above context, we urge governments, the UN Environment and all other the institutions in the Asia-Pacific to consider the following recommendations:


  • Recognize and acknowledge civil society and people’s organizations space and collective engagement in the process;
  • Prioritize people’s issues and concerns at the center of crafting innovative solutions and recognize community-based, local and indigenous innovations;
  • Support the promotion and development of traditional occupation that conserves and sustains biological diversity and also brings in livelihoods to communities;
  • We also call on the development of a shift towards the production of small-scale biofuels and community-based and managed sustainable energy resources;
  • Rethink markets and consider people’s right to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle away from waste-generating patterns of consumption;
  • Hold big transnational corporations accountable under the “polluter pays” principle for all their environmental crimes;
  • Encourage and demand political commitments from national governments, as well as consider rethinking themes that are long-term and has continuity;
  • The process to be more inclusive and involve more sectors and grassroots constituencies.


Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is not only about sustainable resource management or reduce, reuse, recycle (3Rs) but changing lifestyles and infrastructures that influences how we move, what we eat, and where we reside.  Such changes can reduce dependencies on non-renewable resources and improve social well-being. To promote action on SCP it is necessary to (i) broaden SCP’s focus beyond conventional environmental issues to include lifestyle and consumption issues; (ii) design policies targeting entire lifecycle of products both production and consumption; (iii) establish coordination mechanisms and ensure stakeholder participation; and (iv) develop comprehensive national indicators; and (v) monitor national policy strategies in line with the 10YFP (the first indicator for SDG12).


To help strengthen support for stronger measures to achieve human well-being within planetary boundaries, more effort is needed to demonstrate that the following common perceptions are not valid:

  • the dichotomy between poverty and sustainable consumption;
  • the perceived notion of linear linkages between well-being/quality of life and economic growth/consumption levels; and
  • the reliance on small pro-environmental actions.
  • To shift these perceptions, more research on the following sustainability impacts will be important: 1) decarbonization; 2) circularity/circular economy; 3) servicizing/sharing economy (less dependence on product ownership); and 4) digitalization (including artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet of things whilst taking a precautionary approach).
  • Strengthening support for environmental dimensions of the SDGs requires sharing responsibilities across environmental and non-environmental ministries, especially for SDG 12 given its cross-sectoral nature.


Goals 15

Life on land should have the centrality of well being of all living beings on the earth. The most pressing concern is the 6th wave of mass extinction and huge biodiversity losses as shown by an increasing number of academic and practitioners work as well as by narratives of people who contribute to preservation of these resources. We are also ceased by reducing cover of natural native forests and their replacement by monocultures and bio-fuel plantations. An increasing number of policies, programmes, and public private partnerships have not only reduced community control over these terrestrial resources but have led to financialization/(commodification of resources)  of nature which runs at cross purposes with the SDGs. We also want to sound a caution on the ecosystem services approach, which tends to evaluate nature only on its economic benefits. This has huge adverse impacts on life, culture and traditions, sustenance and well being of forest dwelling and forest dependent communities and several indigenous populations. We need urgent reinstatement and reclamation of the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples in the SDG 15 in particular and across the entire SDGs framework.


We need to develop public public partnerships and new modalities of collaboration between the public and private sectors, to conserve, regenerate and restore natural forests for preserving the biodiversity of genetic and plant resources. The current patent regimes have encouraged bio-piracy and given control and ownership of huge amount of especially plant genetic resources to few agribusiness companies, which bodes ill for food sovereignty and security, and sustenance of entire small and family farming community, climate change mitigation, in line with the goals set out by the Paris Agreement.  Such engagement have central role, however needs to include Communities who are the guardians of natural resources and those whose lives and livelihoods depend on these resources of the forests which assume the central role in such engagements. Any such partnerships needs to stand on equal footing and should seek to mobilize financial resources and strengthen participatory conservation and regeneration of regulatory regimes on forests management (Target 13.a, 15.1, 15.b, 17.3, and 17.17). Additional efforts should be made to promote community management practices, local and traditional wisdoms, technologies and innovations that support livelihood generation and has the co-benefits of also contributing to the conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems for greater supply of food, medicines and energy (Target 15.2, 15.b, and 17.3). Knowledge and information platforms as well as other relevant tools should be utilized to better visualize the environmental and social impacts of timber, non-timber and agricultural supply chains, especially with regard to deforestation and forest degradation. Such instruments and methodologies are critical for assisting governments and businesses with measuring progress on forest related SDGs (Target 15.2, and 17.19).


  1. Interlinkage between Goals and an integrated approach


The Goals for HLPF 2018 as well as all other SDGs are intrinsically interlinked and these cannot be met unless a holistic approach is taken. An integrated approach across the three pillars of sustainable development; environmental, economic and social, is also essential. For example, Goal 11 is linked to the goals on poverty, food security, critical services such as health, education, water and energy, the world of work, climate change, access to justice and so on and it must be read and implemented along with linked targets under these other goals. Its targets also cut across all 3 dimensions. Therefore in order to meet Goal 11, all its targets as well as linked targets in other goals must be met.


These integration challenges can be overcome through appropriate policies that are carefully designed and implemented, and with active participation of the people. Governments should intensify efforts to clarify the interactions between and within social, economic and environmental considerations and coordinate their work better across line ministries. Attention should be given to moving away from narrow sectoral approaches, progressing towards full cross-sectoral coordination and cooperation; ensuring coherence between the legislative and executive branches of state power, other state authorities, local self-government, civil society institutions, and the business community, regarding the goals and ways of the country’s development, as well as the willingness to share responsibility for jointly adopted decisions. The importance of collective planning supported by shared implementation responsibility of implementation through a coordinated process at micro and macro level must not be undermined. Governments must conduct proper policy coherence mapping and planning for institutional coherence.


Engagement and full integration of stakeholders in mainstreaming, especially of civil society, remains critical. But most important, communities showcase the perfect examples of integration between sectors and the 3 dimensions of sustainable development. Governments need to work with grass-root communities and under represented constituencies such as rural population, farmers, women, indigenous peoples, small businesses and workers, both in planning and implementation of their policies and programmes to ensure the interlinkages and integration issues are addressed. This should include safe, inclusive and progressive representation of  groups at risk  like LGBTIQ, Migrants, People with disabilities, Persons affected by HIV and State-less persons,  in all platforms related to SDG in national, regional and international advocacy.


  1. Partnerships

(to be read out during APFSD Panel on partnerships)


Partnerships should be informed by the critical understanding of the development process, namely the examination of the content and purpose of aid and development, based on human rights principles, with and duty bearer approach. Partnerships of all types, especially multi-stakeholder partnerships, should be shaped by inclusive structures for accountability for donors and governments, promotes the alignment of donor country priorities with national development plans, and fully accessible aid data.


The MDGs were underpinned by one global partnership between governments, where governments were the primary partners to be supported by other actors including the civil society, private sector and so on. But the SDG discussion has forced a shift to smaller partnerships mainly to justify a withdrawal of governments, primarily in developed countries, from contributing to the common financing needs of a global partnership for development with an overwhelming emphasis now on private sector financing.


The Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and blended finance, especially in developing countries, continue to effect severe consequences on issues of equity and access, especially for the poor and marginalized. PPPs have likewise facilitated human rights abuses, including land grabs and displacement of indigenous peoples, rural and urban communities. The unrestrained promotion of blended finance poses threats to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and should be assessed against the genuine spirit of development


We caution against the role given to and the leveraging of public finance to support partnerships with the private sector that does not respect international human rights standards, and highest level of accountability and transparency in development.


Private Sector entities involved in development cooperation must adhere to all development justice, effective development cooperation, and Human Rights principles, promote and practice decent work and adopt international transparency and accountability norms. The Private Sector must enable, not undermine, these fundamental principles. Regulatory mechanisms and binding regulations founded on global human rights, labor and environmental standards therefore need to be strengthened and applied to all Private Sector actions.


Member States should further their resolve and enforce a strong binding legal framework on Private Sector. The international community must also ensure that the Private Sector holds in high regard the highest standards of human rights, transparency, and accountability while outlining the modalities that will help improve the quality of these partnerships particularly in the light of the increasing role of private sector in delivering the SDGs. We recommend that the international community ascribe to (1) clear criteria by which to assess private sector interventions in development; (2) mechanisms by which to hold them accountable for the adverse social, environmental, and economic impacts of their development programs; and (3) measures to enforce transparency.


We also want governments to engage more with small enterprises, as well as community and social enterprises, which provide many best practices in this regard, rather than corporations whose actions are most often damaging in the pursuit of sustainable development.


At the same time, we see partnership with civil society being undermined not only generally but even in the process of SDG planning, implementation and monitoring. CSOs and grass root communities in particular, harbour tremendous knowledge and experience that canvasses a wide range of areas and are often the most faithful practitioners of sustainable development. We call upon governments to work in partnership with civil society towards meeting SDGs.


  1. Regional Roadmap and the Means of Implementation (Ranja, Ivan)

(to be read out during APFSD Panel on Regional Roadmap)


Adoption of the global SDGs will be meaningless unless robust means of implementation are in place. Civil society and peoples’ organizations from the South have emphasized repeatedly that the imperative to localize the implementation of the Agenda 2030 should not deflect the attention from the need for a stronger global  and regional cooperation led by developed countries to address systemic barriers to sustainable development.


The APFSD 2017 finally led to the adoption of the Regional Roadmap, negotiations on which had begun but could not be completed in 2016. The CSO community has expressed deep disappointment over the Roadmap as it remains weak and misses important tools to strengthen regional cooperation towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. The Roadmap remains ineffective by being too general. However it is not cast in stone and we continue to believe it its potential to become an effective document that can guide regional cooperation, especially in terms of garnering critical Means of Implementation that developing and especially least developing countries in the region urgently need. We urge Member States to commit honestly and seriously to populate the Regional Roadmap with specific and useful instruments addressing some of the MOI needs of the region as outlined below in the key areas of ODA, Illicit Financial flows, Trade and technology..


Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains a critical source of financing for the SDGs, to be seen not as donation but rather the repayment of the former’s historical and ecological debt to the latter. ODA from the DAC members of OECD have substantially slowed down since 2010 and the SDGs failed to secure more than the dismal 0.7% of GDP target notwithstanding a rising military spending. Rather, more resources have been flowing out of developing countries towards the advanced economies in terms of illicit and non-illicit capital flows, debt payments, and profit remittances. The mantra seems to be to use ODA to leverage private investments or Public-Private Partnerships especially in infrastructure. This poses great risks because private finance is profit-oriented which results in inequitable provision of public goods and social service.


We call upon the governments, especially in developed countries, to meet more than their full ODA commitments and reduce the burden on poorer countries, especially LDCs, to generate their own revenues or use corporate funding for meeting their development needs.


At the same time, if countries have to raise domestic tax revenues to finance among other things the SDGs, they must be able to tap its full potential. We see that billions of dollars are lost by countries such as China, India, Indonesia and others to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) due to tax evasion and cross country transfers by corporations. This problem cannot be solved at national level and requires regional and global level cooperation on tax. However rule-making is still controlled by the OECD and remains out of control of the developing and least developed countries who badly need the resources.


We urge governments to resolve this issue effectively, if partially, by regional cooperation. We cannot afford to lose critical revenues to further benefit already rich corporations based in the North. We also ask governments to use direct taxes in a more transparent and equitable manner.

Developing and underdeveloped countries have long been demanding, to no avail, that developed countries adhere to fair rules in international trade and investment policymaking.  Trade rules in the WTO and Free Trade Agreements remain heavily tilted against poor farmers & fisher-folk, , food consumers, workers, patients, women, young people, people living with and affected by HIV, indigenous peoples and all marginalised populations across developing countries and Least Developed countries. In addition the attempt to shrink special-and-differential treatment for developing countries will pose a major challenge for their sustainable development. Enabling a trade-for-development approach in the region is further challenged by the rise of North-South and mega-free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) that feature WTO-plus rules and multiply the economic domination of corporations. The current trend to push for new issues such as liberalisation of  investment, e-commerce, government procurement etc will constrict public policy space (enshrined in SDG 17.14), prevent transfer of technology and knowledge, threaten environmental conservation and natural resource protection, and limit domestic resource mobilization resulting in their economic maldevelopment and backwardness. Unfortunately the Regional Roadmap has nothing to say on trade.


We reiterate our call for a participatory and comprehensive SDG Compatibility Impact assessment of the trade and investment agreements in the region for a new global trade architecture that must provide the policy flexibility  and preferential treatment for developing countries to promote actual development and protect people and communities that bear the costs of these trade agreements.


Technology has been marked as an important area of cooperation in the Regional Roadmap but provisions remain meaningless, and fail to address the core problems in technology development in the region. The kind of STI solutions that are being promoted to deliver the SDGs have overwhelming focus on technological solutions and innovations that come from institutions/formal actors and business and pays lip service on the contribution and value of local technologies, community innovations and traditional knowledge. We also see immense corporate control over technologies, including digital technologies, in food and agriculture, industrial production, environment conservation, finance, health, education and other areas. The 2030 Agenda comes in the age of the 4th Industrial Revolution in rich countries whereas many countries in our region has not even seen the 1st. But this 4th industrial revolution will have data as its raw material, and we see that “data”, a critical MOI, is extremely concentrated in the hands of a few giant corporations. These obstacles adversely affect the capacity of peoples and communities to develop a resilient and sustainable future.


We recommend that the UN and governments should walk the talk in promoting and supporting traditional knowledge systems for SDGs; challenging corporate concentration through the promotion of agro-ecology, support for community-based seeds systems, engaging in competition decisions on mergers. We also want to see increased engagement on the part of governments and the UN system for  a UN convention to address corporate concentration; and to initiate civil society-led participatory technology assessment platforms to interrogate new technologies and their potential impacts to peoples, livelihoods and the environment.


  1. VNR/Accountability

(to be read out during VNR session)


No accountability mechanism can work without strong underpinning principles of transparency, participation, and honesty. The Peoples’ Forum that took place in Bangkok prior to the APFSD 2018 with over 200 civil society participants wants to give out a strong warning that the VNR process is failing and that there’s a need for an accountability process that is people led and human rights based.


Harmonization between the International Human rights system and the Sustainable Development Goals will help ensure that SDG  implementation is on track and prevent duplication of Member States efforts in reporting.  As human rights is one of the cross-cutting themes of Agenda 2030, we strongly encourage MS (that have yet to do so) to ratify all Treaty Bodies and ensure coherence with the national development plans.   At the same time, outcomes from Human Rights mechanisms need to be acknowledged and fully implemented, as they are watchdogs of accountability and transparency.


An inclusive,  participatory and accountable process is critical to successful and strong outcomes for the  voluntary national review process in national , regional and global levels. At the global level, CSOs must be given time to present their findings along with the governments’ and CSO reports must be officially recognised by the High Level Political Forum and Member States. Without space for CSOs to substantively engage at the HLPF, the VNRs run the risk of  becoming a  meaningless one-way exercise by governments.  Further governments should not pick and choose on goals and targets in their VNRs.


But accountability should not begin and end with national reports to the HLPF. There are currently no sub-national bodies for SDG review and a disconnect between national plan and the local level programmes. Local indicators also need to be developed.


The governments should recognize and adopt the people driven accountability frameworks including people centric data collection for ensuring effective and inclusive development. Communities are already moving forward with grassroot level data collection and analysis in relation to the SDGs and other global frameworks. Governments’ engagement with grassroot constituencies and including disaggregated data on how particular constituencies are impacted in reporting are necessary for inclusive transformation. Without specific, robust and participatory mechanisms in place at local and national levels, governments will fail to harness the learning from local solution and data gained from community initiatives into their VNRs. It is also our governments’ responsibility to create an enabling environment for CSO participation in accountability mechanisms, given the backlash against human rights work and HRDs.


Similarly, the APFSD must reflect the principles of full participation,  transparency and accountability.  One step is continuing to  strengthen while implementing the Regional Roadmap that was adopted in 2017.  The APFSD or another meeting to chart out progress to achieving the SDGs, similar to the Montevideo Programme, would be a good use of the regional platform and resources. CSO role should be properly and fully institutionalized in the process.


Multi-stakeholder partnerships  should have clearly defined goals  involving diverse actors: parliamentarians,  local authorities ,donors, CSOs, trade unions, and private sector all as equal partners  with clearly defined roles, and clear reporting processes. To ensure full participation requires strengthening of CSOs in policy space, with access to information and  training on aid monitoring.
To sum up, the narrative of follow up and review mechanism has been more favourable towards the Member States than ensuring accountability and transparency to the people.  Shrinking democratic space means that  Civil Society engagement by many governments is limited in the region. The transformative change encrypted in the SDG document will not be achieved  through the State’s exclusive planning of the policies and integrating it with the national development plans,  and without the engagement of a wide range of stakeholder including civil society and the creation of new modalities and inclusive mechanisms.


  1. Closing CSO perspectives / Key Asks / recommendations

(to be read along with opening part during opening session)

Civil society groups, people’s movements and development partners in the region are committed to engage, reclaim space and fight for our rights towards the path in achieving development justice with its five transformational shifts–redistributive, economic, environmental, social and gender justice and accountability to the peoples. We would also like to call the attention of governments and other stakeholders in the alarming and increasing rates of violations against environment frontline defenders and human rights defenders.


We reiterate the need to look at the SDGs in a holistic and integrated manner that consciously recognizes the interlinked nature of environmental sustainability, achieving equity and eliminating inequalities and inclusive and sustainable development. There is a need to strengthen the linkages between Agenda 2030 and international human rights mechanisms in order to deliver “the world we want”. Similarly, the synergy between policy processes at the regional level must be captured in order to propel the region forward.  Equal emphasis must be places on all pillars of development-environment, economic AND social.


The elimination of  structural barriers is the basis of genuine sustainable development for the people. There is a need to address the root causes of inequality, conflicts and wars, in forms of large-scale resource grabbing, corporate hegemony, militarism, neoliberal trade, and patriarchy and fundamentalismS.


This holistic look also means the work on SDGs must not be disconnected from the work pursued in other fora both by governments and civil society at global, regional and national levels, for example, in fora involving rights of indigenous Peoples’, women, farmers, workers, fisherfolk, urban poor, LGBTQIAA, people living wih HIV/AIDS, young people, aging people, migrants, disabled and Dalit populations, as well as agreements or policies pursued in other institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and the global financial institutions. This interconnectedness is recognised in the Preamble of the 2030 Agenda.


Therefore there must be space to connect up with other peoples’ movements on campaigns on issues that are very much part of the 2030 Agenda whether at local, national, regional or global levels. The Peoples’ Forum recognised this need to connect peoples’ campaigns and movements working across a number of issues and argued that achieving the SDGs will be impossible without acknowledging the linkage with people on the ground and issues close to their heart and lives. Civil society wants to and must speak with one voice,  one vision and one approach.


We would also like to reiterate that means of implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda and the UNEA resolutions should put people and people’s rights at the center of priorities. Most importantly, the urgent need for governments to recognize and protect environment frontline defenders and human rights defenders and their key role in achieving the SDGs.


People are the real power behind the goals to achieve a sustainable and just future. The people will reclaim their rights and their space in shaping up sustainable development. Let us leave no one behind or leave anyone further behind.

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