Asia Pacific Civil society groups decry limited participation in crucial environment confab

Civil society groups attending the Third Asia Pacific Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities in Singapore, being held in preparation for the Fourth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), decried their limited opportunity to speak at the meeting.

In a letter addressed to Regional Director and Representative to the UN Environment Programme, Asia Pacific, Dr. Dechen Tsering, the Asia Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM) said that “we are very concerned about our participation and constructive engagement in the official meetings.”

APRCEM lamented that in the dialogue on financing for innovative solutions and sustainable consumption and production there is not a single people’s organisation representative invited to be a panelist, while industry representatives were in the line-up.

“We find it scandalous that the UN is providing so much space in repeating the mantra on business’ central role in realizing sustainable development despite the lack of accountability and violations of human rights,” said APRCEM.

More than 600 grass root, people’s and civil society organisations, comprised of 17 constituencies from countries and territories across Asia-Pacific make up APRCEM. “While we have yet to hear any viable corporate-led solution to environmental challenges, the invaluable contributions of innovative solutions developed by communities and civil society also deserve attention and support,” said APRCEM.

There were no civil society resource persons at the plenary sessions, even as they were limited to make interventions in only two agenda items during the Senior Officials Meeting. APRCEM hoped that “in the future, grassroots movements and civil society are included in panel discussions, allowed to intervene in all the sessions, given the space to feedback the results of the CSO forum to the Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific to ensure that our collective statement is recognized and is reflected in official meeting documents.”

On January 23, APRCEM conducted the Major Groups and Stakeholders’ Forum in cooperation with the UN Environment in preparation for the Ministerial Forum. APRCEM, however, needs at least two days for the CSO meeting to allow for more substantive and inclusive discussions and deliberations. “We call for coherence in UN regional processes and programs. We are aware that UNESCAP is co-organizing a grassroots innovation conference next week which could support the current agenda and discussions at UN Environment on innovative solutions to balance the current focus on technological innovation,” APRCEM said.

For more information, contact:

  • APRIL PORTERIA, Regional CSO Rep to the UN Environment: april(@)
  • JULIUS CAINGLET, FFW-ITUC and focal for workers and trade union: dabigdyul(@)