The UN Post 2015 Agenda on Sustainable Development will include important points raised by civil societies of Asia and Pacific region. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) assured to include some important suggestions in the new agenda to address major issues of the region. The approach of to the Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal must create a constructive path to addressing environmental justice and civil societies emphasize it.
Representatives from 23 countries in Asia and the Pacific attended the the Asia Pacific Civil Society Regional Consultation Meeting 2013 endorsed some recommendation as necessary steps towards achieving environmental sustainability. They assembled in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 17-18 September, 2013. The officials from United Nations participated the UNEP’s Consultation Meeting organised by Asian Development Bank, Satagoeri Project and Ecomom Korea and hosted by the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC).
The meeting focused on environment sustainability in the post 2015 development agenda, regional priority and emerging issues in Asia- Pacific region, role of major groups and stakeholder’s engagement and transparency. It is to be recalled that the consultation, lunched on 31 May 2013, gathered critical analysis from civil society on the UN post 2015 development agenda.
This report, presenting recommendations from regional civil society networks will be delivered to the Head of the UNEP as well as UN.
The approach of to the Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal must create a constructive path to addressing environmental justice. The representatives from different countries, different areas opined that the new Sustainable Development Goal should include substantive targets and indicators to ensure progress towards biodiversity conservation, access to and equitable sharing of benefits arising from sustainable use; protect, rehabilitate, conserve, and develop natural sources ; mitigate and adapt to the effects of of climate change with holistic approach; move towards energy efficiency and truly renewable energy; etc.
There is a comprehensive global mechanism for regulating transnational corporations’ activities in undermining sustainable development and national sovereignty and holding them accountable. The representatives of civil societies suggested UN to recognize trans boundary environmental and social interventions. etc. and the need to adapt preventative and mitigation measures. They opined to develop better qualitative and quantitative time-bound indicators for measuring social environment impacts, and including distributional aspects. Means of implementation (finance, technology and capacity- building) must be addressed in every goal and should be translated to the grassroots level while recognising that governance is a necessary enable for implementation.
The meeting emphasises that community mobilizations towards green solutions and shaping economic development policies through education, literacy, and campaigning for free access to correct information; strengthening work on community based solutions to sustainable livelihoods, eco tourism, energy sources etc.; community-level ecological waste management such as teaching communities how to manage waste and at the same time advocate for government policies on ecological waste management.
Civil societies urges UN to support common but different responsibilities and development justice by giving communities a say in determining their own development paths and priorities; supporting the increased consumption of poor people in the direction of addressing their needs for food, health and housing.; creating better understanding of economic activities to realize social equity and greater regulation of the social economy and not relying on market-based solutions in reorienting the economy and changing the behaviour and lifestyles of the public and thrusts on lobbying on governments and multilateral bodies so that economic development policies made at the national and international levels are oriented towards development justice.
It is urged to ban rivirine and ocean disposal of mine tailing; encourage governments to sign on to international conventions e. g. Rotterdam Convention, Stockholm Conventions on Persistent Organic pollutants; the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Universal declaration of Human Rights; the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and establish a Commission of Enquiry into contamination by mining companies, of which government is a shareholder. Civil Societies urges shift to organic agriculture and reduction of chemicals in farming and local practices; promote community-based certification schemes for organic products and establish monitoring and evaluation of impacts on human health and soil, air and water quality.
Moreover it is urged to establish participatory methodology for rural women to change to more sustainable farming system; introduce community-level waste management and recycling of green waste; encourage governments to pass and implement chemical-specific legislation; reinforce and implement capacity-building for users and traders in chemicals; embedded environmental services into social and economic systems, including micro-finance; increase accountability op polluters through mechanisms that bind polluters to respect human rights; and finally respect and promote the use of traditional knowledge skills and practices for sustainable livelihoods.
There are some trans-national problems to be short out at multilateral level. So civil societies urge establish sub-regional and regional mechanism to assess the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of new technologies and development interventions, with active participation of civil society. Moreover it is urged to establish sub-regional and regional facilities for environmentally sound disposal of hazardous waste and products containing toxic substances, including e waste and impose a ban on the export of toxic and hazardous waste from developed countries to under-developed countries which are being used as dumping grounds for such wastes and establish sub-regional and regional facilities for aglobal program of monitoring human health for toxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Finally civil societies agreed to invite the Special Rapporteur from UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous People’s to carry out a report on compliance.
Civil Societies sought that the new development must be based on the principle of non-regression, embrace a holistic, rights-based approach, and ensure that the human rights principles of equality, equity, justice- including gender equality and gender justice – non-discrimination, inclusive participation and decision making underpin its policies and practices and respect international human rights instruments such as United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Nationalities (UNDRIP), ILO C. N. 169 including the right to development.
The environment is the foundation of all human activity and is the cornerstone for poverty alleviation. The key environmental challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region are access and control over natural resources, and the role of environmental sustainability as key elements to realize universal social protection, decent work and living wages and to achieve peace and security. Achieving sustainable consumption and production is also a critical issue of our time.
The significant influence of corporations over countries in Asia-Pacific in shaping economic policies is preventing the realization of environmental and social objectives. We need to challenge the development paradigm that focuses only on economic growth while undermining human development and environmental sustainability. UNEP has assured to address climate change, industrial destruction, waste and health problem, land grabbing, human rights violation, militarization and violation of rights of indigenous people inclusively.
Asia and Pacific countries are facing serious barriers to realizing sustainable management of natural resources and waste management. Barriers include ineffective government policies to align to sustainable development priorities and lack of public awareness and barriers to making producers abide to their responsibilities to green production. The significant influence of corporations over countries in shaping economic policies is preventing the realization of environmental and social objectives. At the same time, developed countries are affecting developing countries trade and cooperation agreements which do not address local people’s needs.
About the author: Chandan Kumar Duarah
Chandan Kumar Duarah is an Indian science journalist and former Robert Bosch Fellow (Germany)