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Final Declaration: 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum
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The final declaration of the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum held under the title “People’s Solidarity against Poverty and for Sustainable Development: Challenging Unjust and Unequal Development, Building States of Citizens for citizens”.

Link to full document: Final Declaration, 9th Asia- Europe People’s Forum – Vientiane, Laos [PDF]


24th October 2012 - Published by the Transnational Institute

We, over 1,000 women and men, representing people’s organisations and citizens from Asia and Europe joined together from 16th to 19th October 2012 in Vientiane, Laos at the 9th Asia Europe People’s Forum under the title “People’s Solidarity against Poverty and for Sustainable Development: Challenging Unjust and Unequal Development, Building States of Citizens for Citizens”. The AEPF9 tackled four major themes, or People’s Visions, which represent AEPF’s hopes for citizens of the ASEM member countries and the communities they live in. These are:

• Universal Social Protection and Access to Essential Services;

• Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Land and Natural Resource Management

• Sustainable Energy Production and Use; and

• Just Work and Sustainable Livelihoods.

Preceding the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum we held three preparatory workshops in South and South-East Asia on our four themes. In Laos, 16 provincial level consultations were held which contributed to the development of a draft Lao People’s Vision Statement. These brought together the reflections, aspirations and visions of the Lao people from a wide range of mass and civil society organisations across Lao society. They are an important contribution to future dialogues for development and seen as part of the Laos’ commitment to strengthening partnerships for development.

At the Asia Europe People’s Forum 9 we focussed on developing strategies and recommendations to our elected representatives in our countries, and to ourselves, as active citizens. We met at a time of major historical importance that has brought into sharp focus the drastic inequalities, injustices and poverty experienced by people across Asia and Europe. What is often presented as a ‘financial crisis’ is in reality part of a series of interlinked crises - food, energy, climate, human security and environmental degradation - that are already devastating the lives, and compounding the poverty and exclusion faced on a daily basis by millions of women, men and children across Asia and increasingly across Europe. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and access to resources, livelihood opportunities and basic services remain grossly unequal. The ASEM9 is an historic opportunity for ASEM governments to take the timely and decisive actions needed to address this.

There is a strong consensus among Asian and European citizens gathered at the AEPF9 that the dominant approach over the last decades - based around deregulation of markets, increasing power of multinational corporations, unaccountable multilateral institutions and trade liberalisation - has failed in its aims to meet the needs and rights of all citizens. We need to go beyond an analysis and response that focuses solely on short-term measures benefiting a few financial institutions and large corporations. There is a deep felt need and demand for change and for new people-centred policies and practices.

Despite the policy failures of trade liberalisation, market deregulation and privatisation, our governments continue to ignore the growing tangible consensus for fundamental policy change. Instead of fulfilling the needs of people and reinvigorating local economies, hundreds of billions of Euros have been mobilised to save the banks and financial system, while essential social services remain under-funded and are being dismantled in many parts of Europe.

Despite existing laws, regulations, standards and mechanisms, our governments have failed to prioritise human rights, environmental security and labour rights, over the profits of companies. The consequences of this corporate domination are experienced in the lives of millions of women, men and children across Asia and Europe. This has led to a hollowing out of democratic accountability as elites make decisions and implement policies with little or no scrutiny from citizens, creating the conditions for poverty, inequality, environmental devastation and growing social unrest.

Our governments and the citizens of Asia and Europe have the responsibility to transform our social, economic and political futures so that we can all live in peace, security and dignity. We all need to take responsibility to work together to create and implement the radical and creative solutions needed for people-centred recovery and change. We therefore call upon the governments who are members of ASEM to implement people-centred responses to the current crises in an effective and responsible manner. Urgent need must be given to poor, excluded and marginalised people and governments must work with citizens to develop and implement policies that will lead to a just, equal and sustainable world, and more accountable and democratic institutions – based on respect for gender equality, our environment and our fundamental human rights.

The AEPF is a strategic civil society gathering of Asian and European social movements fighting poverty and inequality and working for social justice. The AEPF is grounded in the common desires of people’s organisations and social justice networks across Asia and Europe to open up new venues for dialogue, solidarity and action.

The following call to action is based on the recommendations from the many vibrant and exciting events that were held throughout these four days.

Link to original source and full report