We, the Women’s Major Group representatives at the Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20 call on governments to reaffirm their commitments to Agenda 21 and the Beijing Platform for Action, and fulfill their obligations to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. We also call on governments to respect recent international agreements including the 2009 UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development where the causes and effects of the global economic, food and ecological crises were discussed and urgent measures adopted to achieve a less volatile macroeconomic environment for sustainable development, including making economic policies compatible with human rights obligations.

On the road to Rio+20, we invoke the principles enshrined in these instruments – especially non-discrimination and substantive equality and their linkages to gender, economic and ecological justice. We assert the need for a radical change in mindset necessary to steer humanity off the course of repeated crises and self-destruction. To this end, we make the following six points:

First, we are alarmed by the complete disregard for women’s human rights and gender equality in the Draft Asia Pacific Regional Statement. This is a regression from gaining an entire chapter on Women in Agenda 21 and a chapter on Women and the Environment in the Beijing Platform for Action. Governments in the Asia Pacific region must recognize that gender is cross cutting in development processes and that gender equality is vital to the achievement of sustainable development.

Second, we wish to reframe the “green economy” as “sustainable economies”. We reject current economic models pursued in the name of efficiency and economic growth, but are in fact driven by profit and greed, and have resulted in unprecedented levels of poverty, inequality and food insecurity that disproportionately affect women. Instead we are working to realize “sustainable economies” that are gender just and enable long-term social and well-being outcomes for present and future generations, especially marginalized groups such as indigenous, ethnic and sexual minority groups.

As women comprise half the world’s population and also count among the poorest, a “sustainable economy” must recognize women’s paid and un(der)paid contributions to economic production, must generate sustainable livelihoods by which women can realize the full enjoyment of their human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and prevent all forms of discrimination and violence in women’s exercise of their economic rights and co-stewardship of the earth’s resources. Central to this is women’s unmediated right to access, own, control and benefit from productive resources and assets, which includes land, water, seeds, energy sources, livestock, financial resources, public subsidies and appropriate technologies.

Third, women farmers must be recognized as co-managers of community resource bases and co-decision-makers in determining the use of natural resources and the distribution of benefits arising from them. They must be assured of capacity development in bio-diverse ecological agriculture including humane sustainable livestock and fisheries production, necessary rural infrastructure, appropriate technologies and marketing skills for their economic autonomy. We further seek from our governments a commitment to the rapid reduction and elimination of toxic substances and highly hazardous pesticides and fertilizers, while steadily phasing-in non-chemical approaches.

There is much to learn from gender-responsive good practices on agro-ecology and sustainable natural resource use and management that strive for balance and synergy between humans and nature. It must also be recognized that woman can capacitate “sustainable economies”, with their indigenous and traditional knowledge systems which should be protected from appropriation and exploitation by big business.

Fourth, as marginalized and excluded groups, women bear the harshest impacts of the current climate crisis, including increased ecological and economic displacement. States must address the gender-differentiated impacts of climate change while ensuring greater and more meaningful participation of women in the climate deliberations and outcomes, and in adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Fifth, distressed migration is a phenomenon across many countries in our region, with women comprising the bulk of those who migrate from rural to urban areas and from developing to developed countries. Governments must address the huge social costs resulting from distressed migration by addressing women’s economic deprivation and environmental degradation.

Sixth, women are greatly concerned by corporate driven technological solutions to climate change that are harmful to the planet and people. Such technologies must be subject to rigorous, transparent and participatory assessments including the implications on women’s and children’s health and well-being.

We take a firm position against nuclear energy as one of the ‘solutions’ to the energy crisis. It is neither clean nor sustainable, as many nuclear disasters have already so painfully pointed out. States must immediately phase out nuclear energy and seek fresh and up-scaled financial resources to shift the world to green (renewable) energy, which will benefit all of humankind.

In closing, we expect nothing less from Rio+20 than a commitment to promoting sustainable development and gender equality in ways that go beyond the limited “add women and stir” approach, and which genuinely recognize women’s co-leadership and co-stewardship. Toward this end we call for sex disaggregated data and gender budgets to assure equitable resource allocation.

We further insist on the full realization of the Rio Principles including the precautionary principle, common but differentiated responsibilities, polluter pays, and Principle 10 on access to information and justice. We, the Women’s Major Group call on all our governments to take action now.

*Women’s Major Group Members at the Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for Rio+20:
Kaisha Atakhanova,
Social Eco-Fund/ EcoForum, Kazakhstan
Meena Bilgi,
Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management
Mae Buenaventura,
Women Legal and Human Rights Bureau/ Freedom from Debt Coalition
Marjo Busto,
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific/ Asian Rural Women’s Coalition
Arze Glipo Carasco,
Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty
Youngsook Cho,
International Solidarity Center, Korean Women’s Association United
Sarala Gopalan,
World Farmers Organization
Govind Kelkar,
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Anita Nayar,
Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Yukiko Oda,
Japan Women’s Watch/ Kitakyushu Institute on Sustainability
Daphne Roxas,
Asian Women Network on Gender and Development
Gajender Sharma,
World Society for the Protection of Animals
Tess Vistro,
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)/ National Federation of Peasant Women

Further endorsements by women’s NGOs and allies active across the Asia Pacific region:

Nimra Amjad-Archer,
Shirkat Gah, Pakistan
Dwi Astuti, Executive Director
Bina Desa, Indonesia
Zohra Andi Baso,
Women Concern Forum of South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Eleanor Blomstrom,
Women’s Environment & Development Organization
Aditya Bondyopadhyay,
Adhikaar-SALGBT Network, India
Dr. Dina Bowman,
University of Melbourne, Australia
Virisila Buadromo, Executive Director
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement
Lice Cokanasiga, Alumni
Gender, Economic and Ecological Justice (GEEJ) Pacific
Celita Eccher, Coordinator
Gender and Education Office–International Council for Adult Education
Rosa Koian,
Bismarck Ramu Group, Papua New Guinea
Ulamila Kurai Wragg, Coordinator
Pacific Gender Climate Coalition
Edmund McWilliams,
The West Papua Advocacy Team
Mumtaz Mughal, Regional Coordinator
Aurat Foundation, Pakistan
Peni Moore, Noelene Nabulivou & Sima Chand, Management Collective Members,
Women’s Action for Change, Fiji
Maureen Penjueli, Coordinator
Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG)
Kris Prasad, President
Drodrolagi Movement, Fiji
Ashwin Raj, STAR Project Manager
University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Ruth Russell,
Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Australia
Kairangi Samuela,
Punanga Tauturu Inc, Rarotonga Cook Islands
Mida Saragih,
KIARA / The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice, Indonesia
Anasuya Sengupta, Asia & Oceania Director
The Global Fund for Women
Ethel Sigamanu, Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Solomon Islands
Veena Sikri, Convenor
South Asia Women’s Network (SWAN)
Nalini Singh,
Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Malaysia
Fumi Suzuki, Executive Director
Space Allies, Japan
Angela Taft, National Convenor
PHAA Women’s Health Special Interest Group, The Public Health Association of Australia
Phuntshok C. Tshering,
Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs
Yvonne Underhill-Sem,
University of Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Isis International

People’s Statement on Sustainable Development and RIO+20

August 17, 2011
Bangkok, Thailand

We, 52 women and men from 18 countries – Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China and Hongkong SAR, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Timor Leste, USA, and Vietnam – and representing peasants, agricultural workers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, workers, women, youth and students, refugees and stateless persons, academia, environmental and support NGOs and networks met for the ‘Promoting a Transformative Agenda for Sustainable Development: A Strategy Workshop on Rio+20’ on August 15-17, 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand.

We have come to this meeting fully aware that twenty years after the UN Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, popularly known as the Earth Summit, the world is farther than ever from reaching the goals of genuine people-centered sustainable development. The multi-faceted, yet interconnected crises encompassing the economic, political and ecological spheres are causing unparalleled suffering all over the world. Worst afflicted are people from poor countries, most especially women and indigenous peoples.

This crisis of global capitalism further propels profit-driven and unsustainable development that causes irreversible damage to the world’s environment. This crisis results in the global climate meltdown, the appropriation of natural resources and the destruction of lives and livelihoods, especially of ecologically-sensitive indigenous and traditional livelihood systems.

Rio+20 in 2012 thus comes at an opportune time, when the world’s governments and peoples are obliged to think of alternatives to the current development model with its ever-increasing failures. It presents opportunities to push urgently and comprehensively the agenda for genuine people-centered sustainable development.

Indeed, solutions exist. And they are in our hands, the people, who in our communities, workplaces, farms and forests, make the building blocks of genuine people-centered sustainable development. As we strengthen and consolidate our movements to achieve genuine economic, political, social, gender, ecological and climate justice, we call on the leaders of governments, multilateral institutions and other stakeholders to heed the people’s calls for genuine sustainable development.

We urge governments and the UN system to deliver and not backtrack on the promises and commitments made in Rio twenty years ago.

In particular, we put forward these messages:

On the Green Economy

We are alarmed at the corporatization of the Green Economy agenda. We believe that technological fixes and market-based incentives are false solutions to the ecological and climate crises and will not advance sustainable development.

For sustainable economies to develop, it is crucial to democratize ownership, control and decision-making over productive resources and assets. We should move from a capital investment model towards an appropriate mix of more democratic modes such as cooperative, community-based and driven, commons or public forms of ownership to ensure that economic activity provides sustainable livelihoods and meets the developmental goals of the community and society.

Public enterprises should remain in public control and privatization should be reversed.
Promote sufficiency-based economies (i.e. catering primarily towards meeting local needs and demands, developing local capacities, based on available resources, appropriate technologies and resource sharing).
Manufacturing should promote closed-loop production where products are designed with minimum use of energy and materials, longer life-spans and with maximum reuse and recycling of parts and components.
Promote mass public transportation systems.
Implement genuine agrarian, aquatic, pastureland and forestry reforms; and promote biodiverse ecological agriculture that benefit small producers, especially women and indigenous people.
Stop profit-oriented exploitation and destruction of natural resources that destroy lives and livelihoods.
Stop industrial corporate agriculture and fisheries.
No to renewable energy that depends on monoculture and biomass extraction.
Respect and promote community-based and farmer-driven efforts in organic agriculture, seedbanking and on-farm improvement of crop varieties and animal breeds.
People-centred sustainable economies should promote the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in accordance with UNDRIP including rights to land and resources, and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
On the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development

To deliver on the promises of the first Earth Summit, there is a need for an effective and democratic institutional framework that can and will ensure economic progress, social equity and environmental protection – the three pillars of sustainable development — in an integrated and holistic manner. This governance architecture must operationalize and implement the Rio principles including the Right to Development, common but differentiated responsibility, the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle.

Building a strong apex body on sustainable development that works on a global level and can integrate the disparate United Nations bodies working on one of the three pillars of sustainable development is desirable. Options that should be explored include transforming the Commission on Sustainable Development into a Council on Sustainable Development, or establishing a UN Organization on Sustainable Development.
Rio+20 should work for the immediate establishment of a broad inclusive multi-stakeholder consultative body or network tasked with supporting the promotion and implementation of Agenda 21 and Rio+20 resolutions. Such body should be participatory, democratic, and have an integral multi-stakeholder character that accords civil society with equal rights and equal voice as governments.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of a global body on sustainable development rests on the effective functioning of similar institutions at the local and national levels and its relevance to people’s lives.
On New and Emerging Issues

The UNCSD 2012 must affirm and strengthen internationally-agreed principles and objectives for sustainable development at all levels of government. All actors should be held accountable to well-established international standards and conventions – e.g. Right to Development, Human Rights conventions, Extractive Industry Accountability, Transparency Accountability Initiative, etc.
Reorganize international trade, investment, finance and development cooperation relations around rules that value, respect, protect and fulfill people’s rights; economic, social, gender ecological and climate justice; economic sovereignty and self-sufficiency.
Enhance development cooperation in support of sustainable development.
Commitments from the North in the form of adequate financing (according to common but differentiated responsibility), appropriate technology cooperation, and needs-based capacity building are of utmost importance to support developing countries make a just transition to sustainable development pathways.
Developing countries and their development partners should evaluate the coherence of their policies in trade and investments and rectify those that are incoherent with sustainable development. Repudiate unequal trade and investment agreements.
Restructure foreign direct investments in the context of South-South Cooperation (not North-South or South-South competition) to include regulatory controls and a transition period.
Uphold food sovereignty to address the food crisis. Communities should have the right to determine their patterns of food production and consumption, and famers should be able to prioritize food production for domestic consumption. Government should give incentives to sustainable food production practices.
Reject the intellectual property rights regime and other monopolistic enclosures that impede people’s access to commons and productive resources.
There should be a global mechanism to assess the impacts of new technologies. Such mechanism should provide resources towards building capacity of countries and communities to assess and monitor the health, biodiversity and environmental impacts of new technologies. We support the adoption of an International Convention for the Evaluation of New Technologies (ICENT) and an outright ban on technologies that put the planet at grave risks such as geo-engineering.
Governments should invest in research and development on people-centered sustainable development.
Policies should respect cultural diversity, and modern science should be combined with indigenous knowledge in bottom-up approaches of research and development to develop technologies that are appropriate and democratic.
Communities have shown extreme resilience and creativity in confronting the spiraling multiple crises, utilizing various mechanisms not just to survive, but also to assert their economic, social, cultural and political rights. In the midst of this protracted crisis of the global capitalist system, people dare to imagine and build a new world where development means promoting the well-being and dignity of all; where prosperity is created through shared resources and efforts; where nature’s limits are respected; and where nations, peoples and communities cooperate to ensure democracy, justice, equity, peace and prosperity for all.

Today, even more so than twenty years ago, people of the world are aware that the challenge of genuine sustainable development requires no less than the profound transformation of societies and of international relations. We must all rise up to the challenge. #


Aidwatch Philippines
Anakbayan‐California/Katarungan‐Washington DC, USA
Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Lebanon
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), Hong Kong
Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)
Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), Philippines
Burma Environmental Working Group (BEWG)
Center for Community Economics and Development Consultants (CECOEDECON), India
Centre for Environment and Development (CED), Sri Lanka
Center for Peoples Democratic Governance (CPDG), Philippines
Centre for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas (CSDM), Vietnam
Centre for Sustainable Rural Development, Vietnam
China Association of NGOs (CANGO), China
Coastal Development Partnership (CDP), Bangladesh
Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)
Dignity International
Earth Rights International
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Institute (EILER), Philippines
Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD), Bangladesh
ETC Group
Forum of Womens NGOs of Kyrgyzstan
Foundation for Consumers, Thailand
Green Movement of Sri Lanka (GMSL)
IBON International
International NGO Forum for Indonesian Development (INFID), Indonesia
Institute for Motivating Self‐Employment (IMSE), India
Instituto de Estudios Politicos para America Latina y Africa (IEPALA), Spain
Khmer Institute for Democracy (KID), Cambodia
Korean Civil Society Forum on International Cooperation (KOFID), South Korea
Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), South Korea
Korea NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation (KCOC), South Korea
Local Development Institute, Thailand
Navdanya International
ODA Watch Korea
Participatory Research and Development Initiative (PRDI), Bangladesh
Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PAN AP)
Peoples Movement on Climate Change (PMCC)
Peoples Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea
Public Interest Research Centre, India
Reality of Aid Asia Pacific (ROA‐AP)
Roots for Equity, Pakistan
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Burma
Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), Philippines
Sustainable Rural Development (SRD), Vietnam
Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation, Thailand
Timor Leste NGO Forum/FONGTIL
World Society for the Protection of Animals – Southeast Asia Office
Vikas Adhyayan Kendra (VAK), India

Additional Signatories as of October 22, 2011

Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), Philippines
Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development – Rio and beyond
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
Partnership for Governance Reforms (Kemitraan), Indonesia
Franciscans International (Asia Pacific)
Water and Quality of Life Foundation, Thailand
Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria
Pergerakan Indonesia
Kampala, Uganda
Indigenous People’s Issues and Resources, USA
NNARA Youth-UPM, Philippines
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Philippines
Asian Peasant Coalition
APVVU, India
Civil Society Counterpart Council for Sustainable Development, Philippines
Isis International

The Strategy Workshop on Rio+20 was co-organized by the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), Ibon International and the Reality of Aid-Asia Pacific (RoA-AP). Should you wish to sign on to this statement, please email to secretariat@aprnet.org

WE!, an Isis International e-newsletter, offers news, information and commentary on women’s activism and rights around the globe.
19-20 October 2011 (Seoul, South Korea)

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