Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Asia-Europe People’s Forum concludes with declaration focusing on sustainable development

Xinhua, Oct 19, 2012

Vientiane – The 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF-9) concluded here on Friday with a final declaration ratified by all participants. The declaration emphasized the participants concerns in four major areas, including universal social protection and access to essential services. At the closing session of the meeting, Maris Dela Cruz, member of the International Organization Committee of AEPF, said the participates to the meeting engaged in an in-depth discussion from different perspectives in the last three days, in order to come up with people’s vision and recommendations on people’s solidarity against poverty and sustainable development.

Referring to the social protection, the declaration called on the government to implement a transformative and universal social protection system together with alternative national development strategies to chart a people-cantered development that is just, democratic, and sustainable, reversing the neo-liberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. Within the social movements, food sovereignty has prevailed as an alternative to the industrial agricultural model. The declaration emphasized that peasants, small-scale food producers, and rural populations should be able to decide their own development path.

Sustainable energy production and use was seen as an issue of major importance. The declaration noted that anything that cannot be re-used, recycled, or re-designed is pollution, which is a threat to human and planetary existence and a negative legacy to future generations. Thus it must be eliminated, prevented from being produced or banned from entering the market. As for the sustainable livelihoods, it suggested social movements and workers’ organizations to work with governments to develop a people-centered social charter that can enable just work, sustainable livelihoods and universal social protection. The AEPF-9 participants also noted that the peace, security and people’s solidarity are the preconditions for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Also presented at the end of the AEPF-9 was the Lao People’s Vision Statement. This document presents the Lao people’s voices for reducing poverty and improving sustainable development. It is constructed through a set of interviews and surveys among the Lao people.

Prior to and in conjunction with the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM-9), the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum opened in Lao capital Vientiane Tuesday, with participation of around 1,000 representatives from civil society organizations in Asian and European countries. Since its formation in 1996, the AEPF has become the only continuing civil society inter-regional network connecting people’ s movements and advancing their voices in ASEM.

Moderator’s note 22 Oct 2012: The Final Declaration of the AEPF9 can be downloaded here.

The English version of the Lao Peoples Vision Statement can be downloaded here.

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