August 19, 2011
BANGKOK—Some 50 civil society representatives from around Asia gathered in Bangkok on August 17, 2011 to exchange knowledge, experience, views and strategies on the issues around sustainable development and the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, also known as the Rio+20 Summit.
At this strategy session, internationally-renowned environmental and social justice advocate Dr. Vandana Shiva urged civil society organizations (CSOs) to continue to exercise creativity, vigilance, and solidarity to defend the gains made at the Rio Earth Summit twenty years ago and promote alternatives from below.
The inputs from Wanhua Yang of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Neth Dano (ETC Group), Paul Quintos (Ibon International), and Uchita de Zoysa (Center for Environment and Development ) stimulated the sharing of critical analyses of the green growth paradigm and the current infrastructure for sustainable development.
In addition to critiquing the still neoliberal underpinnings of the green economy approach as promoted by multilateral institutions including the UN, the CSOs present highlighted the importance of indigenous and grassroots knowledge in saving the planet. Participants also expressed grave concern over the incoherence and market-oriented bias of the current infrastructure for sustainable development. They challenged the UN to give more space for CSO participation in the Rio+20 process.
After a set of workshops and a plenary debate, the participants came up with a statement that will feed into the official regional preparatory meeting for Asia and the Pacific in Seoul in October; an action plan to raise awareness and strengthen engagement with policy makers on sustainable development issues from the community up to the national, regional, and global levels; and a working group that will promote the Bangkok statement and action plan up to Rio+20 and beyond.
The regional strategy session was organized by the Asia Pacific Research Network, Ibon International, and the Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific at Suan Dusit Place Hotel in Thailand’s capital city.