Asia and Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), Bangkok, Thailand



The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is convening the third session of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD 2016) on 3-5 April 2016, at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

APFSD 2016 is meeting on the theme “Regional priorities for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.”

The Forum includes member States, United Nations institutions and other institutions, major groups, civil society and other stakeholders and will discuss regional priorities for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific, reflecting ESCAP’s mandate for follow up and review. It will also make recommendations on scientific and technological innovation for sustainable development and on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

A small number of Pacific CSOs are participating, including feminists from DIVA for Equality, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, and Haus of Khameleon, Viva Tatawaqa, Veena Singh and Sulique Waqa.

Other Pacific civil society representatives at APFSD include Lanieta Vakatale, of PIANGO, fro Fiji and Roina Vavatau of SUNGO, Samoa.

At the CSO preparatory meeting just held from 31 April – 2 April 2016, Viva Tatawaqa was nominated by pacific colleagues to deliver a short intervention on ‘ Setting the Tone: Reality Check’ on Pacific regional priorities and realities. The session discussed successes and challenges faced by Asia and Pacific CSOs including the AP-RCEM in coming up with a 2030 Agenda, and how this will useful for communities and all people in the region. This session was focussed on issues, not as much on process – though for DIVA for Equality, these are always anyway linked.

Viva Tatawaqa, DIVA for Equality, Fiji (Chk on delivery):

In opening, taking time to firstly acknowledge the wider work of CSOs in the Pacific, Asia Pacific, and especially global feminist networks and women human rights defenders (WHRD), who have been working tirelessly on this 2030 agendas in their own respective spaces.

-As much as its important to speak about issues, its also important to come up with strategies and recommendations. Just highlighting in this time, a few of many issues we face as CSOs during the process of coming up with the agenda 2030, and now implementing. These include:

Funding has always been an issue for Pacific CSOs to participate in any multilateral processes, so as to be meaningfully represented in this kind of meeting. Even though its expensive to fund Pacific participants to be part of this kind of meeting, political ‘wise’ you need us in the room. If not, then we cannot be calling it a Asia Pacific CSO statement etc…Therefore recommending that in the next meeting there will be a fair number of representation from both regions of Asia and the Pacific (which has 14 small island states)

*Shifting Priorities
Noting with deep concern the shifting and inconsistent statement of priorities of some government delegations in terms of economic development. E.g. We see time and again statements that pass or are explicitly supported by SIDs that are human rights and women’s human rights friendly. But after time, they tend to become revert to less useful positions because of their perceived ideas of ‘development’, as if economics is more important than ‘women’s issues. This kind of push back and inconsistency in regional and global meetings creates challenges in ensuring community identified civil society issues are heard.

Recommendations are for strong accountability mechanisms by CSOs to hold governments and stakeholders accountable for their actions, aligning this explicitly with the Agenda 2030 and the 17 SDGs, and being clear on how too many States and non-state actors are trying to water down text or language on, for example, SRHR, climate change and gender equality.

We might all be CSOs that work on different aspects of women’s human rights issues, including perhaps climate change, economic development & LGBTQI rights, However, our personal, organisational and movement politics are diverse and sometimes this difference also creates problems and push backs, But we are pleased in the Pacific that we are really trying now to build more effective coalitions, allies and partners that we work together with, in solidarity and shared responsibility, But its a real challenge when we come out of our region, and having to work with other regional and global CSOs.

Recommendations include use of strong and explicit focus on our issues, while still finding joint bases for our commonalities of issues and interlinkage frameworks, and trying to come up with good shared solutions and ‘win – win’ processes. Its shouldn’t be about how one issue matters more than others, number of population an issue affects, or the strength of the network – but it should be about the strengthening of universal human rights and REALLY leaving no one behind.

*Environmental Issues
-For Pacific people, as elsewhere, natural disasters are also one of the main issues to address, because every time we work hard on human rights, development, our island economics, environment and society and work on strategies, natural disasters or effects of climate change draw us backwards by 1 to 10 steps. This is our reality check.

*In closing,
So when we talk about living no one behind, are we really prioritising that everyone is included in a way that we all have equal representation in these kinds of CSO organising and multilateral spaces, regardless of disabilities, sexual identity, population numbers in our communities, and regardless of regional CSO strength and growth.”

For more information on the APFSD process, and the input of Pacific CSO representatives at the meetings, please follow the DIVA for Equality FB page, and contact:
Shirley Tagi, Coordinator: shirleytagi@gmail.com
Viva Tatawaqa, MC member: vivatatawaqa8@gmail.com

‘All women, all people, all human rights and social justice, everywhere!’

Viva Tatawaqa
Diva for Equality, Fiji, Pacific
Setting the Tone: Reality Check : People affected by Conflict and Disaster
-Speaking as part of wider CSO and social movement coalitions in the Pacific
-Agreed talking points by Pacific CSO reps at APFSD
31 March 2016, Bangkok, Thailand
*Check on delivery


The official sessions of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2016 will be broadcast via the official ESCAP YouTube channel. Links to watch individual sessions are available below and can be re-watched after the conclusion of the forum.

Sunday, 3 April

Opening of APFSD 2016 & Session 1
APFSD 2016: Session 2 & 3

Monday, 4 April

APFSD 2016: Session 3 Continued & Session 4
APFSD 2016: Session 5 & 6

Tuesday, 5 April

APFSD 2016: Special Event on Global Partnership on Sustainable Development
APFSD 2016: Session 7, Adoption of Report & Closing of the Forum

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