Trade unions at the Fifth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development

The Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (APRFSD) took place on 28-30 March 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand. It brought together representative of governments, the UN and stakeholders, including trade unions, to discuss the regional progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This annual event is organised by UN ESCAP and is part of a series of regional forums organised in the build up to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), the follow-up and review mechanism for the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. There are two key aspects to this work: the in-depth review of a number of selected SDGs and the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), in which governments present their progress on all the SDGs. The theme of HLPF 2018 is Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies and the SDGs reviewed will be SDG 6 (water and sanitation), SDG 7 (energy), SDG 11 (cities), SDG 12 (sustainable production and consumption), SDG 15 (life on land) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals).

The forum was structured around seven thematic sessions. They included roundtables on the SDGs under review, a review of SDG implementation within Asia-Pacific and a session which focussed on the VNRs. Trade unions input through joint civil society statements. In the session on Partnerships for implementation of the SDGs, Julius Cainglet (FFW Philippines) delivered a statement (available below), highlighting the need for Public-Private Partnerships to meet specific criteria if they are to be linked with SDG implementation, including the respect of international labour standards.

Trade unions in the region have been paying close attention to the national-level implementation of the SDGs by their governments. For a number of the countries presenting their VNRs this year, unions have compiled their analysis in a trade union country report on the SDGs implementation, which were summarised in a the two-page country profile, available from the ITUC’s 2030 Agenda webpage.

Prior to the APRFSD, trade unions also participated in the preparatory civil society forum, which took place on 25-27 March 2018. Organised by the Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (AP-RCEM), it brought together civil society representatives attending the APRFSD to coordinate and formulate joint positions on the theme and on the SDGs under review. It also provided a chance for participants to share their experience of SDG implementation in the region and assess the spaces for civil society engagement. Trade union contributions to the plenary sessions of the civil society forum included Daniel Urai’s (Fiji TUC) intervention on the systematic barriers in achieving transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies and Sulistri Afrileston’s (KSBSI Indonesia) intervention on the role of worker trade unions involvement in achieving a just transition.

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