Asia- Pacific Statement: Meeting of Civil Society Organizations with the UN President of the General Assembly

Presented by Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

The Asia region holds 60% of the world’s population, including 2/3 of the world’s indigenous peoples, who are   among the poorest of the world.   Asia- Pacific is also expected to fuel economic growth and remains the most vulnerable to climate disasters.Development Justice is the model promoted by more than 100 civil society networks and groups in the Asia Pacific region to deliver sustainable, just and equitable development. 

  Post 2015 Development Agenda

September 10, 2014, UN Headquarters, New York

Presented by Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)

The Asia region holds 60% of the world’s population, including 2/3 of the world’s indigenous peoples, who are   among the poorest of the world.   Asia- Pacific is also expected to fuel economic growth and remains the most vulnerable to climate disasters.

Development Justice is the model promoted by more than 100 civil society networks and groups in the Asia Pacific region to deliver sustainable, just and equitable development. Along this line, let me highlight key areas that need to be addressed effectively in the SDG process:

1.We support the inclusion of Goal 10 – Reduce inequality within and among nations. However,the goal does not include strong actions to redistribute wealth between and within countries nor any measureable targets of wealth distribution. The documents fail to convincingly address one of the biggest structural impediments to just and equitable development – the asymmetrical international economic order that has stripped developing countries of their resources and limited their domestic capacities. This imbalance is evident in the functioning of international trade and finance, capital markets, investments and international financial institutions and agencies, which favor developed countries and corporate interests.  This can also be gleaned in the worrying implications of the ASEAN economic integration by 2015, which will further liberalize weak economies and open up peoples’ resources for the exploitation of corporations in the implementation of the ASEAN Investment Plan including more than 50 large dams and many large mining targets.

Corporations use tax evasion and tax minimization strategies to deprive developing countries of hundreds of billions of dollars each year.  Yet tax evasion is only weakly referenced in the context of improving the capacity of developing countries for tax collection, and without clear measures to ensure tax payments by corporations.

2.We welcome the stand alone gender goal and while it is an achievement to get governments to recognize the importance of ending violence against women and girls for sustainable development, there is a need to ensure the means of implementation and requirements for governments to act, [1] as well as to recognize women’s and girls’ right to choose and have control over their body and sexuality by ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, which should be included in goals and targets. 

3. While Goal 8 is welcome for its focus on DECENT WORK, it should be de-linked from the dominant   economic growth approach. We are pleased to finally see the inclusion of migrant workers; particularly women and we recommend targeting standards for the codification of domestic workers’ rights. Some developed states have strongly resisted references to a living wage, obstructing the delivery of development justice to the poorest paid workers of the world, the majority of whom are women in the Asia region.

4. While there are four (4) goals to limit global warming, these do not provide for clear measures in achieving environmental justice, especially in relation to the need for new sustainable models of consumption and production. The effects of climate change extend beyond the environment and come with a broader set of socio-economic and political consequences. It will be a severe impediment to efforts aimed at eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable methods of production and consumption if not acted upon decisively.

5. We oppose the poverty measurement of $1.25 a day, which has been described by civil society in our region as a starvation indicator.[2]  This is a mockery in the face of the basic needs of the poor, including workers who are the backbone of economic production. This is also irrelevant for indigenous peoples, whose key indicator for well-being and poverty alleviation is security of their lands and resources, and not mere monetary targets.

6. Rural people, including indigenous peoples, need legal recognition of their land rights and security of tenure, to guarantee their access, management and control of their lands, territories and resources for food sovereignty, livelihoods and equitable benefits from the sustainable use of resources. Goal 1 needs the inclusion of clear indicators to monitor land security and land grabbing, especially in relation to indigenous peoples and small farmers[3].

Extractive industries are responsible for widespread human rights violations, displacing millions of people and destroying land, water and sacred sites. Indigenous people are disproportionately affected, because their lands are rich in resources and they lack the financial and other means to resist such impositions. Civil society calls for “the post-2015 development framework to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples, including to self-determination, to free, prior and informed consent, and to land, territories and resources, as recognized in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international instruments.” It is essential that the post-2015 development framework build on an explicit recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights because achieving ‘national development’ has always been used as an excuse to justify the plunder and appropriation of Indigenous lands, territories and resources. [4]

Minimum standards for social safety nets meeting the basic welfare of citizens shall be part of the SDG goals, including appropriate indicators for indigenous peoples’ collective wellbeing.

7. The means of implementation of the SDGs remain very weak.  No clear commitments are made by developed countries towards fulfilling their differentiated responsibilities for achieving sustainable development and effectively combatting climate change. Although technology is put forward as essential in many different goals, the urgent need for fair and equitable access to technology and overcoming intellectual property barriers are not recognized. The establishment of a Technology Transfer Mechanism integrating multilateral, independent, and participatory evaluation of technologies for their potential social, economic, environmental and health impacts should be clearly affirmed.

8. Accountability should be the central feature of this agenda, ensuring respect for human rights and democratic participation of citizens in sustainable development processes, especially by the most marginalized. Indigenous peoples as rights-holders have much to contribute towards achieving sustainable development, but they remain almost invisible in the SDGs. Because they are over represented amongst the poor, the SDGs need to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of indigenous peoples are fully integrated in the SDG targets, with specific indicators and data-dis-aggregation to monitor their inclusion in SDGs implementation.

While we acknowledge some progress in the OWG goals, fundamental elements for equity and accountability are still largely missing.  Without genuine transformation of the current international economic and political order of domination; without full recognition and protection of human rights, and without the real practice of democratic governance and people-driven development, the SDGS will only remain a wish list of states, and the deteriorating inequity and deprivation of the majority will continue to prevail.

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[2] No developed country accepts a measurement of poverty for their citizens of less than ten dollars a day, and most have poverty lines that are much higher than that. In the Asia Pacific region, the poverty line is also measured above $1.25 a day. This is because $1.25 is not an amount that allows even a minimum quality of life—it is not enough to secure sufficient food, housing, healthcare and education, let alone to live a life of dignity.

[3] ‘By 2030 ensure that all men and women, particularly the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership, and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology, and financial services including microfinance’.

[4] UN NGLS Consultation Report “Advancing Regional Recommendations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda”

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