The Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) participated in the recently concluded Asia Pacific CSO Forum on Sustainable Development held from March 26-28, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. The said forum is a preparatory activity of the civil society organizations along with people’s organizations to the upcoming Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development being convened by the UN ESCAP.
The CEC is among the 150 organizations who joined the forum calling and demanding for the recognition and use of development justice as a lense in monitoring the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN and its member states. Since 1992, the CEC is active in engaging the UN on the discourse of sustainable development and has always been in the frontlines together with communities and people’s organizations.
In this year’s CSO Forum, the CEC led the plenary session with a theme “Achieving Development Justice Within Planetary Boundaries” in response to the Third UN Environmental Assembly’s (UNEA-3) theme “Pollution Free World.” The session provided a space for grassroots and sectoral representatives to show evidences of large-scale pollutions being caused by destructive and extractive activities committed by big transnational corporations, to their communities and their natural ecosystems where people depend on for livelihood.
Wali Haider, focal person for the farmers’ constituency in the APRCEM shared about agricultural pollution, particularly the experience of farmers in Pakistan, and how big agro-plantations are contributing to soil contamination and genetic pollution in the long run. The fisherfolk constituency represented by Lani Eugenia also shared a particular case in the Banten Province in Indonesia where a big cement factory has been dumping waste in the sea that is actually affecting fish catch of the fisherfolks in the area. Another case shared was on the impacts of haze to women and children in Indonesia, and the impacts of a toxic workplace to workers’ health and well-being.
The presenters also shared recommendations such as the provision of more democratic spaces and enabling environment for meaningful participation of civil society organizations to inter-governmental processes, and stregthening people’s movements in the call and action for environmental justice.
The session ended recognizing the systemic barriers as the real causes and drivers of large-scale global pollution with emphasis on the need to continue to struggle for people’s rights to their environment and natural resources.